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Historical Society Calendar Raffle
Multiple Chances to Win!
Our 2023 very popular Holiday Calendar raffle fundraiser is now available for purchase! There will be a $25 cash winner each day of January with bonus prize on weekends and a special $100 drawing on December 25, 2022. The cost is $20 per calendar which makes this a perfect stocking stuffer or holiday gift.
Calendars can be purchased by sending a check payable to Hudson Historical Society with your name, address, and phone number to Hudson Historical Society, PO Box 475 Hudson NH 03051. Indicate number of calendars. Once your check is received and verified, we will mail you the Calendar!
Remembering Tex Pointer
By Steve Kopiski
William Pointer was born in Ennis Texas in 1923. Common for young men of the time, he left home in his teens for independence and gainful employment, (and to gather the nickname “Tex”). His early years had him in the Western states and branching out for business, and ultimately answering the call to his generation, enlisting in the Navy in support of the war effort.
“Tex” Pointer couldn’t move through his careers or society in a manner you’d find typical. This was a time of struggle for most Americans, but Tex had crucial challenges. Conflict of identity and heritage, a persistent sense of guilt. He was able to partially unburden himself in his writings and carry on. A manuscript he wrote, published posthumously by his children is entitled “I Pass As White”. Tex Pointer was an African American man who lived as white in the America of the 1940s to the 1990s.
Best available estimates have Pointer and his small but growing family settling in Hudson @ 1957. Family memories have Tex as a fisherman, home builder, furniture craftsman, farmer, caterer, machinist, horseman, host of outings and events to name a few. Over time in town, this was a man you either knew personally or knew who he was on sight. Tall, thin, often in his cowboy hat and boots, and involved in whatever scene might be underway. In no way did he keep a low profile.
When researching a specific individual, local newspaper archives are a convenient resource, except perhaps when you search returns a few hundred mentions and by-lines. Tex maintained a frequent voice in matters of town planning and legislation, a voice more than once awarded the expression “Spoke at great length…” In January 1982, he commanded the front page of the newspaper with an account of his prepared speech (6 Pages!). Here on the subject of Planning Board matters, he stood against proposed changes placing rural spaces in residential zoning to inhibit industrial/retail sprawl. He also pressed for board members to be elected, rather than appointed by the selectmen (Tex himself an appointed planning board member of long standing.)
Then there was Water, getting in and out of it, getting over and around it, even managing its depth weighed on Pointer’s mind and moved his advocacy. Proper concrete public boat ramps for both Robinson Pond and the Merrimack River (Tex highly in favor,) involved sometimes years-long and even heated debate back and forth, and neither succeeded. In typical Tex fashion, he states “I don’t swim, and I don’t own a boat. I have no personal interest in this boat ramp” then launches into a half-page letter to the editor advocating the Merrimack River proposal. Then there was the critical control of the depth of Robinson Pond, the necessity of a dam, the issue of beavers building dams, even the rumors of clandestine dams constructed in secret by residents! And of course the long debated matter of additional bridge(s) to Nashua across the Merrimack going back to the early 1960s. Pointer was a member of a delegation to study, leading him to proclaim himself the “town’s most frequent user of the bridge”. The amount of leverage this permitted was not recorded. And while it’s true Tex was reliably outspoken on many issues, colleagues from the time recall his committed interest in what he felt was for the good of the town.
And who knew, for example, that in 1913, the first motorized truck in NH was owned by the “Hudson Volunteer Hose Co. #1”, later the Hudson Fire Dept.? Largely a volunteer force until the 1970s, in the early part of the 20th century, firefighters would pay $3 to join the brigade, buy all their own equipment, and pay fines for missing meetings, fire drills, and actual fires. Pointer laid out the whole history in four full-page installments serialized weekly in the then Hudson News. Also in that paper, Tex took the front page for his two-part history of the Presentation of Mary Academy. And on occasion, when humor took the place of history, Tex offered musings in the column “I Remember When…” where he’d poke fun at town foibles and citizenry (without naming names.)
Likewise, Tex was a reliable and prolific scribe for local publications, notably the Nashua Telegraph and Hudson (later, Hudson – Litchfield) News. “Twin Valley Area News” was a weekly feature in the Telegraph and for a good while in the mid-60s, Tex was its Hudson correspondent. Here he reported on political news, town happenings, social and charitable events and such.
Notable citizens engage their community. They participate and contribute their time and talents for its betterment. In an excerpt from cover notes in Tex’s book; “What if you could change the direction of your life? Would you have the strength to make the sacrifices to get there? Bill Pointer had that strength… every day was an uncertainty to Bill. His story is about the past and future of a race, as well as that of a person.” Overall it is instructive. Envisioning a place where judgment by appearance can be removed from our experience as Tex succeeded in demonstrating, what remains is our common humanity.
Acknowledgements: “I Pass as White” by William “Tex” Pointer is available at major on-line booksellers for interested readers. The Pointer family generously provided personal recollections and collected archives for this article. Written by Steve Kopiski, a member of the Genealogy and Research Committee of the Hudson Historical Society.
Seasonal Open House
Greetings of the Season and Happy New Year to all
Even though plans for the ‘in-person’ Seasonal Open House did not develop as planned, we are pleased to share this virtual Open House with you.
Sit back, relax, and take a few moments to enjoy this video prepared by The Hudson Cable Committee and narrated by Society President, Len Lathrop:
Thanks to Anne Country Florals, Sue Hill of Flowers on the Hill and her class at Alvirne, members of the Society who decorated inside and outside he House. And special thanks to Diane Cannava, Grace Lemay, Jacquie Lemay, and Michael Johnson of HudsonCTV.
3 Ferry Street – Home of Arno and Ida Gatz
About the Co-author
Hudson Schools 300 Years
300 YEARS of HISTORY
This exhibit shows 300 years of Hudson school history (1719 – 2021) in 5 segments. The text with photos for each segment can be downloaded from the home page of RememberHudsonNHWhen.com.
In the Beginning (1719 – 1890) is displayed in the Dining Room of the Hills House. It begins with early schooling and the rise of the 10 local school districts and ends with decision by the voters to transition to a unified (town) district under the jurisdiction of a School Board of 3 members. Files for download:
A New Era (1890 – 1934) is displayed in the Meeting Room. It begins with the first School Board and the building of two new schoolhouses: one in the bridge area on Sanders Street (Webster School) and one at Hudson center on Windham Road (Smith School). Fire destroyed the Smith School, and it was replaced with a school on Kimball Hill Road (Hudson Center School). By 1934 Webster School had also endured a fire, rebuilt, and expanded. Most of the local district schools had been closed; a few were used as needed. After grade 7 Hudson pupils attended Nashua schools. File for download:
Era of Many Changes (1935 – 1970) also in the Meeting Room. The two schoolhouses were at max capacity. By 1939 Hudson Junior High school was built off School Street. Growth of the town increased need for more classrooms. By 1951 the vision of Dr. Alfred Hills was realized when Alvirne opened as a combined Junior/Senior High School. The junior high building off School Street became an elementary school and renamed H.O. Smith Elementary. By the close of this era Hudson Memorial School was in use and ready for expansion. File for download:
Achieving Stability (1970 – 2020) also in the Meeting Room. Hudson continued to grow. The town purchased St John’s School for an elementary school: Library Street School. Later in this era we see the construction of Nottingham West and Hills Garrison Schools. Files for Download:
Alvirne Story (1920 – 2021) displayed in Meeting Room near the fireplace. This segment begins with the vision of Dr. Hills in 1920 to the securing of the Hills Family trust funds in 1948, the first graduating class in 1951, fires at the high school and barn, to the expansion and rededication of the Palmer Center. Files for Download:
The text with photos for each of these segments can be downloaded from the home page of RememberHudsonNHWhen.com.
Hills House Tours during Old Home Days
Hills House Tours with the customary
scavenger hunt and prizes
Hudson School History 1719 – 2021
Friday Aug 13 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Saturday Aug 14 3:00 – 8:30 pm
Sunday Aug 14 12:30 – 3:30 pm
$3.00 admission; children under 12 free with adult
Granite Quarry at the Ledges
Hudson residents in many neighborhoods have access to trail systems following along and adjacent to cleared spaces beneath power transmission lines. These have been used for decades by children on adventures, pleasure hikers and off-roaders (legally and otherwise.) There is a particular spot where a combination of power lines, cow paths, and discontinued routes from older times branch out from a century-old granite quarry the locals call “The Ledges”.
The Ledges are located in the woods northeast beyond Ledge Rd, but trail access was cut off by development long ago. It is well off the power line trails from the substation at the end of Power St. (road gated) where these transmission towers head off in multiple directions to bring electricity to the region. A trail, once a road, from Ledge Rd. to Power St. is in living memory of a few locals. The quarry as it remains today is hard to conceive a more thrilling, if unsafe, playground for youngsters. Stone steps for scrambling up and down 20 feet or more, natural and man-made features inspire the imagination into a pretend house, or a hero’s hideout. A frog pond at the base of a cliff where throughout the spring one can see eggs become tadpoles, then frogs year after year.
Modern quarry operations cleave monstrous slabs of granite with house-sized chainsaws, and leave tall, smooth cliffs. When in operation from the1800s until the beginning of the 20th century, the technology involved a series of holes likely by steam drill, then splitting off large pieces with what’s known as “feather and wedge”. Of course explosives were also used, scattering large chunks all to be carried away by wagon. Their destination or ultimate use is unfortunately unknown. Granite was and remains a sought-after commodity primarily for building. Foundations to entire structures, seawalls, retaining walls as well as monuments and markers. In viewing, one can see The Ledges was a small operation with its output probably used up locally. What remains are irregular stair-step remnants of stone in an amphitheater arrangement.
In searching for its history, not a whole lot remains. The Historical Society turned its attention here in response to an inquiry concerning a turn of the century map. As is shown below, when operating, the quarry was referred to as ”Lappre’s Ledge” (1889), then later (1908) “Mcqueston property – Duncklee’s Ledge”. What follows are largely verbatim reported accounts from the Nashua Telegraph. These concern the quarry and surrounding areas, (minimally edited to preserve the character of the original accounts). Excerpts in Italics, Warning: There are some graphic descriptions of accidents:
Jun 6, 1889 – Hudson – NH – Explosion – Lappre’s Ledge -A man in the act of discharging a blast when a gust of wind blew some of the loose powder upon the fuse and a premature explosion followed. The man with a ton or more of fragments stone, was thrown more than 20 feet into the air. He fell within a few feet of the place where he was standing at the time of the discharge, and strange to say, was not killed. These injuries, however, were of a very serious character. His face badly burned and blistered is a eye so badly injured that the doctor feared he will lose it. His left leg and arm were badly burned and blistered, and the skin pierced and torn by stone. In fact, pieces of stone forced into his leg in several places. Besides this, this watch, which stop at 10:40 AM is rendered worthless, and his clothes torn and set on fire. The man was brought to his home in Nashua where he was attended by a doctor who had no occasion for alarm concerning the patient’s recovery.
Apr 11, 1894 – Hudson – NH – Wagon accident – Ledge Road – a man was drawing stone from the ledge and loaded his wagon and was on the way out in route to Nashua. The road out of the pit was steep up the hill. His wagon jumped over a large stone and he was thrown from the wagon. He fell under the wheels and died on the scene.
Nov 14, 1907 – Hudson – NH – Explosion with injury – A man working at the LP Dunklee ledge suffered numerous fractures, burns and cuts when he was placing explosives to clear rock and a secondary explosion took place. He died from his injuries 8 days later.
Apr 11, 1908 – Hudson – NH – Large brush fire – Mcqueston property – Duncklee’s Ledge – The fire was started by brush fire being burned and was spread by the wind. Ten acres were burned before the fire was controlled around noon. At 2pm the flames again reignited and were spreading fast. Over 100 acres burned being the largest fire in (town) history up to that time. Dec 1, 1962 – Hudson – NH – House fire – Ledge Road -Firefighters responded to the vacant unoccupied home and they when arrived heavy fire was showing from the small building. Before crews could bring the blaze under control the home was destroyed.END Excerpt
This last item, the house fire was unique in that its location was not on a conventional street, rather a lot immediately adjacent to the quarry. It was inhabited by a reclusive woman until 1959 and abandoned a few years before it burned. As it turned out, this woman owned the quarry site and a considerable amount of the associated land which she sold when she vacated. First hand accounts describe the building as “a shanty” with one witness claiming it was built around a large boulder up through the floor. Plausible speculation is that it was the field office during the quarry’s operation (where a boulder might only make sense). A brief mention in the Dec. 3 ’62 Telegraph states the cause as arson. Ample land in a central area of town can only remain untouched for so long. In the 1980s, the quarry site and surroundings combined for a land sale where over one hundred homes stand today. Preservation efforts are fortunately unnecessary for the Ledges remaining rugged stone in the Granite State.
Written by Steve Kopiski. Acknowledgements for research assistance to Ruth Parker, Peter Lindsay and Dave Morin; (HFD Call Records from the Nashua Telegraph.)
THE COMING OF ALVIRNE FOOTBALL
The first Touchdown scored for Alvirne football was on March 4, 1994 at the School District meeting when 450 voters approved the beginning of football at Alvirne. The final score was 232 in favor and 210 opposed, a mere 22 vote margin. Yes, there had been prior attempts at a football program; one as early as 1967, and many in the 1980’s. As I researched for this story, I could see that 1994 was different; the first time that Alvirne school administration officially endorsed the idea even though the School Board and the Budget Committee did not.
Alvirne’s enrollment in 1995 made it the seventh largest Class L high school in the state but ranking poorly when it came to competitive athletic programs. This was affecting the students, the school spirit, and even educational and scholarship opportunities for college.
Alvirne Athletic Director, Clyde Meyerhoefer, presented a well thought out three-year plan to the voters. The first year, $63,250 budget, would include equipment for 60 players coaching staff, transportation, and game officials. The second year, $42,000 budget, would expand the number of players to 80. The third-year budget would be $32.000. The program started at the junior varsity (JV) level and expand to the varsity level. Support for football came mostly from towns people who were active in Pop Warner football and who wanted their family members to continue to play the sport even into college.
Alvirne football began in the fall of 1995. The 1996 class yearbook proudly recorded the excitement and success of the first Alvirne football team coached by Howard Sobolov to a record of 3 wins and 4 losses. Alvirne football jersey #22 was retired as a tribute to the mystical 22 vote margin at the 1994 school meeting and successful plan spearheaded led by Clyde Meyerhoefer. That framed jersey hangs to this day in the office of Karen Bonney, Alvirne Athletic Director.
Stadium lights were added to the field complex through the generosity of the Alvirne Trustees by September 1996; thus, enabling the first home game in Alvirne’s history on Friday evening September 13,1996. It was a rainy cool night and the football fans stood alongside a fence overlooking the field or stood on the back of pick-ups to get the best vantage point. Bleachers and an announcement booth were added by September 1999.
Over the past 20+ years Alvirne football has had some successes while other years have been more challenging. At the end of the day, as AD Karren Bonner reflects, it is about providing students the opportunity to represent their school and their community.
So, we ask, when did earlier attempts to start a football program occur and why did it take so long to become reality?
The earliest I found was in 1967. There was no specific warrant to start a football program, a $3,500 line item was included in the annual school budget for football at Alvirne. This led to much discussion, amendments to the article, and even amendments to the amendments! After lots of discussion and compromises between the School Board and the Budget Committee, the football program was removed from the budget (and expressly prohibited). These are the actual words used by the Telegraph reporter about the meeting. The budget was then approved without football.
During the next 10 to 15 years there was a lot of competition for money within the School District. The completion of Memorial School, the athletic field complex at Alvirne, the fire and rebuild of Alvirne, and the growing need for additional elementary classrooms. During this same time, the annual school budget were often cut by the voters at the annual meetings.
As we entered the 1980’s there was one attempt with an article in 1981, but it never came to a vote. Interest picked up again in 1985 with the introduction of two warrant articles requesting permission to start a football program and to raise $50,000 for it. After much discussion, the voters agreed to form a committee to study the possibility and report back at the meeting in 1986. For the 1986 meeting there was a $790,000 bond issue to expand the physical education facilities at Alvirne. Football startup was a part of this article. 300 people attended the School district meeting at Memorial School. In the end this article was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 236 of 58. Another proposal was presented in 1987 which called for $132,000. After about 30 minutes of debate this was defeated 298-70. That brings us up to the successful proposal spearheaded by Clyde Meyerhoefer in 1994.
That leaves the question “Why did it take so long?” These past few months I have had occasions to reminisce with some Alvirne alumni. The question of football and why it took so long often came up. Many alumni, myself included, remembered hearing that football at Alvirne was forbidden because the Hills Family who donated the money to start the school had a son who was severely injured or killed playing the sport. Many had heard it, but none could site the source. My research and the research of many before me have shown this rumor to be false; in fact, Dr. and Mrs. Hills did not have a son. So, let’s look at some more realistic reasons for the delay.
Alvirne began as a small high school in a small town where the initial building was funded by the trust funds of Dr. Hill’s family. The growth of school enrollment was aided by students from neighboring towns such as Litchfield, Pelham, and Windham. These neighboring towns paid tuition which helped with the expenses but the decisions for expansion were made by the Hudson voters.
As a small school in the 50’s and 60’s we concentrated on basketball, track and field, soccer, and baseball. Until the mid-60’s and later with the growth of Pop Warner in town football at the high school did not enter the picture.
There was always competition for school money. We saw this as we reviewed discussions from the various school district meetings. I think of the 1967 school meeting where press coverage of the meeting stated that football was removed from the budget and expressly forbidden. This fact could have fueled the rumor.
Clyde Meyerhoefer and his family came to Hudson in 1974 when he became a teacher/coach. He coached many sports including soccer, track, and baseball. In 1985 he became the Athletic Director, a position he held until 1999 when he moved to Belmont, MA. He served there for three years before he passed in 2002. His impact extends far beyond Alvirne. He was respected locally, at the state and national level for his work as an athletic director. During his career he was the recipient of many awards, including NH Athletic Director of the Year 3 times. The NH Athletic Director’s Association continually recognizes his contributions in this state by presenting the Clyde Meyerhoefer Award each year to a NH athletic director with 3 years or less experience.
Karren Bonney, the present AD, joined the Alvirne staff in 1985 when Clyde became the AD. When Clyde moved to Belmont in 1999, she was promoted to AD. To Karen, Clyde has been a special colleague and mentor, even after he moved to Belmont.
Any reader, especially alumni, who would like to share their memories with this story are encouraged to add their comments by clicking on the comment line at the end of this story.
The following sources were used to research for this article: Hudson School District Annual Reports, Nashua Telegraph, Hudson Litchfield News, Alvirne Yearbooks, as well an inputs from a member of the Meyerhoefer family, and current Alvirne AD, Karen Bonner. Researched and written by Ruth Parker
The Part Played by New Hampshire in the Revolution
An essay, researched and written by H.O. Smith. MD of Hudson was read before the Nashua Historical Society on December 99, 1935. A typed copy of this essay including some of H.O.’s handwritten edits is now a part of the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. The document, passed to his son, Deering G. Smith, MD was donated to the society in 1966 by Deering’s estate.
In summary, New Hampshire was the first colony to establish independent self-government upon a constitutional basis; and,
was the first to make an open attach on the military forces of Great Britain; and
the first to suggest a Declaration of independence; and
lastly, but not least, in the two pivotal battles of the war, Bunker Hill and Bennington she furnished the majority of the men engaged, as well as their leader, General John Stark.
To read the full text of “The Part Played by New Hampshire in the Revolution” click here.
Dr. Henry Onslow Smith was born in Hudson December 1864. After graduating Nashua High School he attended Dartmouth college for two years and then entered Bellevue Hospital Medical college in New York. After completing his studies and a year of residency he returned to Hudson at the age of 24 in 1888 to begin his 57 year medical practice. In 1940 he was granted a degree of bachelor of arts by the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth college. In May 1945, after completing a house call for one of his patients, he passed suddenly.
Many knew him as Dr. Harry or as Dr. H.O. He was devoted to his medical profession and also to the education and affairs of the people of Hudson. One tribute to him stated “Dr. Smith himself was never old in spirit.” He greeted all ages as if they were his friends. He welcomed new residents and kept in touch with his old friends. He had a respect for the past and found great pleasure in genealogy and town and state history. I have a personal respect for Dr. H. O. when I reach for a book at the historical society which came from his personal library; often times finding annotations in his own handwriting which offer corrections or updating of the material written in the book.
Dr. Harry came from a family of physicians and educators. His father, Dr. David O. Smith was also a lifelong physician in Hudson and he served on Hudson’s first School Board. His brother Dr. Herbert L. Smith and his son Dr. Deering G. Smith practiced in Nashua. Two uncles from his mother’s family were also doctors. His father, Dr. David O. and his grandfather Alvan Smith served on the school committee. His parents were both school teachers in Hudson. In fact David O. Smith earned most of his money for his medical expenses by teaching a private school.
Hills Garrison the Elementary School on Derry Road
The first proposal to build an elementary school on Derry Road was presented to the voters in March 1988 when they were asked to approve the construction of two 600 pupil elementary schools of identical design; one on the Pelham Road and one on Derry Road opposite Alvirne High School. Included within this plan was 1/2 day Kindergarten, the conversion of Webster School to SAU office space, and transferring Library Street School to the town for their use. The cost of this plan was $12.57 million. There was also an option to enlarge each school to 800 pupils for an additional $1.23 million. This school meeting was the largest and liveliest on record. After much heated discussion the plan was amended and later approved. The result being to build one 800 pupil school on the Pelham Road at a cost of $7.3 million; later this new school was officially named Nottingham West Elementary.
Proposals for the Derry Road elementary school came before the voters again in March 1998 with a $7.5 million bond issue to build on land adjacent and south of Alvirne High School. A separate warrant article proposed 1/2 day Kindergarten at a cost of $1.8 million for 10 classrooms, with 75% being funded by the state. The voters of Hudson rejected both articles.
Long term Superintendent Peter Dolloff retired and within three years Randy Bell was hired as Superintendent. With this new leadership the School Board, School Administration, parents and individuals of Hudson worked together in order to solve the problems of space and class sizes within our schools. Focusing on the building issues a $17.6 million warrant article was presented to the deliberative session on February 2000 which included the cost of the land plus construction of a new elementary school on land adjacent to Alvirne as well as renovations and an addition to Memorial school. When the votes were counted in March this proposal was approved. This was a landmark decision by Hudson voters. The School Board gave credit to the community and various committees working together. Under the direction of the Building Committee Chairman, Bernard C. Manor, the new school was scheduled for completion for September 2001. The improvements at Memorial School were scheduled for Spring 2002.
By the beginning of the 2001 school year Hills Garrison was completed so as to provide elementary education for 512 students in grades 1-5 plus facilities for pre-school. The total school enrollment for Hudson that year was 4,100. The photo of the Hills Garrison School is courtesy of the Hudson School District.
On October 6, 2001 Hills Garrison school was officially dedicated to the citizens of Hudson for their generosity, support, and devotion to the students of Hudson. The school was named for the long standing contribution to the town by the Hills Family. A brief history of the Hills family was a part of this dedication. Paul Hills, a direct descendent of Joseph Hills, and members of his family were present for this event. The photo of the dedication plaque is provided courtesy of the Hills Garrison School staff.
A short time later the Hills Garrison marker was relocated onto the grounds of this school from it’s Webster Street location where it had been placed by Kimball Webster in 1901. Photo of garrison marker on school ground is courtesy of the author.
Public kindergarten and more specifically the responsibility for funding continued as a discussion point until 2009 when, after years of debate and discussion the Hudson school system provided 1/2 day Kindergarten.