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Search for Rev. Benjamin Dean

The Reverend Benjamin Dean moved to town in April 1828 when he became the pastor of the Baptist Church of Nottingham West (now Hudson). We know only a few details of his life before that time. Born in northwestern Massachusetts about 1793 he was ordained at Swanzy, NH in February 1826. Just prior to Hudson he was serving as an Evangelist for the Baptist Society in Westmoreland, NH. Most of his time with the Hudson church was a dark and difficult time. In less than 2 years his connection with the church was terminated as he was deposed by an ecclesiastical council and excluded from the church for immoral conduct. I have no further details about the claims brought against him. To Mr. Dean’s credit it is only fair to say that by 1834 he made a public concession of his wrongdoing and asked forgiveness of both the Baptist and the Presbyterians. You see, at that time both churches were worshipping in two meeting houses at different times; the North meeting house (near Wattannick Hall) and the South meeting house (near Blodgett Cemetery). A short while later he was restored to membership in the Baptist Church; he never returned to the ministry but did reside and work in the Hudson Center community.

Benjamin Dean House on Hamblet Avenue C 1942

The Benjamin Dean house which was located on Hamblet Avenue is known as “The House Twice Moved”. This house was built by Abraham Page in 1747 on the Bush Hill Road and it later became a part of the Haselton Farm. By 1836 the owner, Benjamin Dean, moved the house down to Hudson Center on the east side of the Hudson Center common and a short distance from the North Meeting house where he had once preached. He married Betsey Hadley of Hudson in 1843. The US Census records, and the 1855 Diary of Eli Hamblett give us a sense of Hudson Center at the time. Eli and Benjamin were neighbors, owning the only houses on Hamblett Avenue. Dean often worked for Hamblet in exchange for farm produce. Agricultural lectures and school were sometimes held in Deans Hall; a large room with an arched ceiling on the second floor of Dean’s home.

The census records gave me a clue that he passed between 1850 and 1860. Whenever I searched for his date of death and where he was interred, I hit a brick wall. As it turns out he passed in December 14, 1856 and was interred in the early potter’s section of Westview Cemetery; burial places set aside for the indigent. The “rest of this story” has more to do with how this information made itself known to me than the facts themselves! The information came from two documents; one a part of the Historical Society collection and the second the old Westview Cemetery record book.

From a work ledger (1840 to 1865) kept by Eli Hamblet I learned that on December 14, 1856 he recorded a charge of $1.40 against the Estate of Benjamin Dean for taking his team to Nashua for a coffin and for sexton duties. Since Hamblet had a definite connection with Westview Cemetery I had reason to think Rev. Dean was buried there. This work document came into possession of the Society just a few years ago; it had been in a private collection and the donor wished that it be returned to this town!! Later, while doing some cemetery research on lot 76 (the Simpson family lot) I had reason to look up that lot in the old record book. Two thirds of the present day lot were once a part of the potter’s field which had remained unused except for one grave, that of Rev. Benjamin Dean. This fact had been lost from the records when the new book was started about 1900. I quickly looked at the layout of lot 76 in the current record book. The center of the lot shows the outline of the Simpson family monument superimposed over an outline of a coffin. I knew where Rev Dean was laid to rest! This information has been incorporated into the current cemetery records and steps will be taken for the site to be marked.

The (unmarked) Grave Site of Rev. Dean

A dear friend of mine once said, “if you are looking for information about someone and that person (past or present) wished to be discovered they will assist you by making the information available to you. This may seem “spookey” but in this case with Rev. Dean this omen is true! The photo of the Dean House is from the collection of the Historical Society. That of the gravesite was taken by the author.  Researched and written by Ruth Parker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Adoniram Judson Greeley

Book Plate for Greeley Public Library

History has informed us about the Greeley Public Library but this week we look at the man behind this library, Adoniram Judson “AJ” Greeley, MD.

A Hudson native he was the oldest son of Joanna (Merrill) and Reuben Greeley. Reuben owned a farm in Hudson Center adjacent to the Town Common; a prominent leader in town he served as postmaster, town clerk, selectman, representative to the legislature and an early members of the First Baptist Church. AJ’s mother, Joanna, was born in Sedgwick, Maine where her father, Rev. Daniel Merrill, was the pastor of the local church. Rev. Merrill served in the Revolution and graduated from Dartmouth College. He first served as a Congregational pastor but converted to Baptist and became a leader in the Baptist movement in New England. Rev. Merrill and his family moved to Hudson, then Nottingham West, in 1814 when he accepted the call to be the pastor of the Baptist Church here in Hudson. One could say the rest is history as Reuben, a prominent young man, and Joanna, the pastor’s daughter, were married in Hudson November 1817.

In September of the following year their first child was born and named Adoniram Judson Greeley in honor of the first protestant missionary sent from North America to serve in Burma. He was a New Englander and a Baptist, so it was natural that Reuben and Joanna named their first son in his honor.

AJ’s childhood home exists today at 234 Central Street, the parsonage of the First Baptist Church with the church located next door at the corner of Greeley and Central Streets. Much of the land surrounding 234 Central was Reuben’s farm; including the site of the church, and extending up Greeley Street and west along Central Street. During these early years the Baptists met in the north meetinghouse located near the site of the present Wattannick Hall. The Baptist meetinghouse was not built until 1842 when AJ was 24 years old. Neither did the church have a parsonage, Rev. Merrill and his family occupied a home on Kimball Hill Road.

AJ’s early education was from his parents and a local one room district school; most likely district #4 located on Kimball Hill Road. His high school education was at the Academy and Theological Institution in New-Hampton, NH. Following high school he attended Brown University in Rhode Island graduating in 1841. He then did medical studies at Harvard and received his MD in 1845. He practiced medicine in Searsmount, ME for about 10 years moving to Clinton, MA for a short period and then settled in or near Providence, RI area where he practiced nearly 40 years until his sudden and unexpected death in 1893.

In addition to medicine he had an advocation for antiquity. He traveled to various countries and was particularly knowledgeable about Europe and Egypt. He was known to have a sizeable estate which included his personal library of nearly 3000 books. In his will he bequeathed some 500 volumes to the town of Hudson for a library.

Dr. A. J. Greeley died unexpectedly at the age of 74. He was found unconscious in his office and passed away the next morning at a local hospital. A local police officer was doing rounds and noticed a trail of blood outside in his doorway. He followed the bloody trail to the doctor’s office where he was found unconscious. At first his passing was considered an accident, suffering head injuries as the result of a fall. Dr. Greeley did leave a blood stained note instructing whoever found it to get in touch with his brother, H.C. Greeley, the executor of his will. Following his death and an examination of his body the medical examiner declared his injuries were not consistent with an accident and his death was considered a homicide. The theory being he was attacked during a robbery as he was known to carry money on his person. It is unclear if anyone was prosecuted for this crime.

Monument for Family of Reuben and Joanna Greeley

The rest is history. His brother was the executor of his estate. Through AJ’s generosity and the generosity of his heirs nearly 2000 volumes of his books came to Hudson over the next few months to form the nucleus of the Greeley Public Library. A.J. himself was returned to his hometown where he was laid to rest in the family lot in Westview Cemetery along with his parents and four of his siblings. Our first photo is of the book plate of the Greeley Public Library showing the early method for cataloging books. The second photo shows Dr. A. J. Greeley’s memorial in Westview Cemetery.

Revisit Schools . D.O. Smith School on Windham Road

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D.O. Smith School built 1896

In 1896 Hudson residents voted to erect two new school houses. This vote began the movement to a centralized school system; departing from the the district school system. The Smith School shown here was erected for the convenience of families in/near Hudson Center.

The Smith School house was erected in Hudson Center on what is now Windham Road. The building committee was authorized to spend up to $3,000 to build and equip this school; which was named in honor of Dr. David O. Smith. In his younger years David O. was a successful teacher, he then studied medicine and became a very skillful physician. After becoming a doctor he retained his interest in the schools of this town, doing more for our schools than any other person during his long lifetime. This school house was completely destroyed by fire and was replaced by the Hudson Center School on Kimball Hill Road in 1909. The Smith School was located on the north side of the road at or near the present address of 42 to 44 Windham Road. This picture is from an old sepia photograph from the Historical Society collection.

192 Central Street – The McCoy Home

192 Central St 2010A small

The McCoy Home on Central Street

 

This house which stood at 192 Central Street was home to as many as 5 generations of McCoys. The earliest McCoy we find that lived here was James Otis McCoy, born 1788 in Windham, NH. He purchased this location and a corresponding site on the opposite side of the road from Abigail Chase in 1859 when he was 71. Ownership of this homestead passed from James Otis to his grandson James (B:1846), then to Herman Richards (B: 1878) and then to Herman’s daughter and son-in-law,Thelma McCoy Ives and Merrill ‘Joe’ Ives, Herman’s widow, Ethel Augusta Woodward, continued to reside there until she passed in 1968.

The younger James McCoy was born in Boston, MA in 1846 and came to Hudson with his parents, Daniel Gregg and Harriet (Barrett) McCoy, at the age of 6 weeks. By 1856 his father Daniel Gregg passed at the age of 41. James was 10 years old. By 1863, when James was 17, his mother Harriet passed at the age of 51. When he was 19 James enlisted in Company I First NH Heavy Artillery volunteers. Returning to Hudson after his service in the Civil War he purchased the McCoy homestead on Central Street from his grandfather, James Otis, in 1867.

On December 2, 1868 at the age of 21 James and Emma Cinderella Richards were married in Hudson. They lived their 26 years of marriage in this McCoy home. During this time they raised a large family. James passed in January 1915 after a period of poor health. He was survived by six children: James Otis of Manchester; Mary Haselton of Hudson, Herbert W. of Shirley, MA, Herman Richards, Daniel Gregg, and Elgin Leon all of Hudson. He had been predeceased by his wife Emma Cinderella Richards. James was known as a quiet man who was well liked by his fellow townspeople. Of his surviving children Herman, Daniel, and Elgin are significant to the history of 192 Central.

Herman received title to this Central Street home in 1915; 1/3 by will from his father James; 1/3 from his brother Elgin; and 1/3 from his brother Daniel. In October 1916 at the age of 37 Herman and Ethel Augusta Woodward were married in Nashua. Herman and Ethel made their home in the house where he was born. They raised a family of 2 daughters, Mildred (b:1918) and Thelma (b: 1925) and 1 son, Robert (b:1922). Mildred married and moved to Nashua. Robert moved to Illinois. Thelma married Merrill “Joe” Ives and they remained local.

Herman was employed with B&M Railroad, Maine Manufacturing, and later with Beede Ruber Co. For many years he served as superintendent and secretary of Westview Cemetery which was located adjacent to the rear of his house. His widow, Ethel, continued to reside here until she passed in February 1968. Thelma and “Joe” Ives purchased the McCoy home and resided there until the time of their divorce when it was sold to John C. Graichen who resided there for several years. Following the passing of Mr. Graichen it was sold to the family of Michael Dumont and later to his son Donald. Our photo of the house was taken by the author in 2010, following several years where the house was unoccupied. Soon after this photo was taken the building was razed. The lot at 192 remains vacant to this day. Thelma (McCoy) Ives remarried to Al Carroll. Thelma Carroll passed in 2017.

It is difficult to determine when this house was built. We do know there was a dwelling on the property when it was purchased by the McCoy family in 1859 from Abigail Chase. Prior ownership has been traced through various owners to Paul Tenney in 1834 at which time there was also a dwelling on the property.

 

Baptist Church Sanctuary

sanctuary 1888 (2)

Sanctuary C 1888

When the Baptist Meeting House in Hudson Center was built in 1841 it included four walls with windows on probably three sides, a balcony, chimney, one or two wood burning stoves, a platform, a pulpit set, and pews.  The pews were of the square box type and had been carried over from the North Meeting House.  Pews were individually owned and passed down by deed. Likely the balcony was open overlooking the sanctuary and enclosed later to conserve heat.  You may ask about the steeple.  It was part of the early building as evidenced by the bell.  The first bell, donated by Deacon Moses Greeley,  cracked and was replaced in 1847 by the present bell.  At first stringed instruments were used to provide the music.  They were replaced by a pump organ about 1850.  At that time a young doctor in town, Dr. David O. Smith, also served as music director for the church.
Various modifications to the sanctuary have occurred since 1841, but the most notable of these occurred in 1888 when the church received the gift of the Woodbury and Harris tracker organ from Dr. David O. Smith.  In order to house this organ an alcove was added to the front of the sanctuary.  At the same time extensive changes to modernize the sanctuary were made.
The new organ became the centerpiece of the sanctuary with the large archway for the pipes and the console for the organist.  Behind the scenes were doors through which one could enter into the organ.  The doorway on the left side was most important.  As the church did not have electricity a ‘blow boy’ would enter into the organ in order to exercise the pump handle to place air into the organ pipes.  This practice continued into the 1920’s when the organ was electrified.
Other improvements included colored glass windows, a new pulpit set, an updated platform, and new modern pews.  These pews were said to be of the newest type available at the time.  The pulpit set,  windows, and pews are a part of the sanctuary at the present time.  The platform has had various minor changes made to it through the years.  Our first photo show the interior of the church sanctuary C 1888 shortly after the dedication of the new organ and the re-dedication of the sanctuary in April 1888.  Lighting was done by gas; note the center chandelier in the sanctuary.  Also the ceiling is not the steel ceiling of today; this was added about 1905.
Before we ‘fast forward’ to the present time let me make a comment about baptisms.    Prior to 1900 there was no baptistery within the church.  Baptisms occurred at a local lake; Ottarnic or Robinson Pond.  Our church has had 3 baptistries.  The first installed about 1900 and the third C1965 to the left of the organ as a memorial to Deacon Arthur M. Smith.  The mural for the baptistery was painted by Phyllis Moore.
For the past 10 plus years the church at Hudson Center has engaged in a number of building improvements; some of which paved the way for more visible renovations to the sanctuary.  The earliest of these was the replacement of the steeple.  The original steeple was removed in 2000 and for many years we were without a steeple.  As funds and an able contractor became available the steeple was replaced in 2006.  The second major improvement came with the restoration of  the colored sanctuary windows; again as money became available each window was removed, restored, and returned to it’s original place.  The third improvement was to upgrade our heating system and the installation of central air for the sanctuary.  These improvements were completed in 2014.
With these infrastructural items completed it became possible to plan for more visual enhancements to the sanctuary. A Sanctuary Refurbishment committee was organized by the congregation.  The first project is to update and enlarge the platform.  After a planning period and architectural drawing of the proposed platform, see photo,  construction work began  In February 2018.  The goals are to enlarge and modernize the platform, improve access to it and the organ console, and to make sure it was structurally sound.  The construction work is being done by volunteers from the church and the community under the leadership of Richard Tassi as the architect.
FBC platform 2018

Proposed Platform 2018

Follow-on projects will include painting of walls and ceiling, lighting, flooring, and more comfortable seating.  The schedule for these projects is open and will be planned when resources are available.
The Baptist Church in Hudson Center has served our community and our Lord for over 200 years.  The building at 236 Central Street is an historic building.   It is interesting and important that while making these plans for the future we are able to reflect on our past.

200 Central Street – The Parker House

200 Central c1895

200 Central St C 1895

The house at 200 Central Street in Hudson Center is known to many as the home of Florence Parker, her sister Ernestine, and Ernestine’s son Raymond Parker. They were the oldest daughters of Rev. Clarence Charles and Hattie (Robinson) Parker. As a pastor Rev Parker served in Nottingham, NH, East Hampton, MA, Bolton, CN, and Post Mills, VT. Their mother, Hattie, passed in April 1912 at the age of 42 while they were serving a church in VT. In addition to her husband she was survived by eight children ranging in age from 3 to 15 years. There were 6 daughters (Florence, Ernestine, Ruby, Mildred, Helen, and Alice) and 2 sons (Charles and Lehsten who was also known as Erich. After Hattie passed her eight children returned to Hudson to reside with either their Parker or their Robinson family. Florence, Ernestine, Ruby, and Erich lived with their Parker grandparents, Lydia (Batchelder) and Charles Clarence Parker in this very house. Mildred lived with a neighbor and aunt, Lillian (Parker) Smith. Charles, Helen, and Alice went to live with their Robinson grandparents on Robinson Road.

So, this house was home to Florence and Ernestine from 1912 until they passed. Florence passed in 1977 just short of her 80th birthday; Ernestine in 1990 at the age of 91. Of the other siblings who also lived here Ruby died at the age of 20 and Erich married Almina Bassett and they moved elsewhere in the area.

Professionally Florence was a school teacher in Hudson for more than 40 years, mostly at the Center School on Kimball Hill Road. She received her training from Nashua High School and Keene Normal School. Florence had a natural aptitude for teaching and received many awards and recognitions. The photo shows Florence as she received the Teacher of the Year Award just prior to her retirement.

Florence with award

Florence With Award

Ernestine commuted to Nashua and was employed for many years in the mills in Nashua. As a young adult Ernestine enjoyed visiting with her brother Charlie on the Robinson Farm.  This photo shows Ernestine and Charlie C 1920.

Charlie and Ernestine c1920

Ernestine and Charlie C1920

By the middle 1950’s the Parkers had reconfigured their home to include a gift shop on the front of their house facing Central Street. From this shop they sold some very fine pieces of glassware as well as souvenirs of Benson’s and Hudson. This shop continued to operate into the early 1970’s.

Both sisters had a talent for the arts and crafts. An untold number of scarfs, sweaters, and mittens were distributed to Hudson children that originated from the needles and hands of Florence or Ernestine. Florence caned chair seats, even into her later years with failing eyesight. Ernestine’s specialty, especially in her younger years, was quilting. I have seen some phenomenal original quilt patterns which she has designed and made.

They were both active with the Baptist Church at the Center. Ernestine served for many years as a financial officer and teacher in the Sunday school. Florence served as the church organist for years.

Before opening their home in 1912 to their grandchildren, Charles Clarence Parker and his wife Lydia Lowe Batchelder had already raised their own family. He was born in Warren, NH in May 1852 a son of Rev. Lafayette and Hannah Wyman Parker. He came to Nashua as a student in the Crosby school. For 30 years he worked diligently compiling and publishing a dictionary of the English language. While engaged in this work he had a book store on Main Street in Nashua.

He married Lydia Lowe Batchelder August 1873. She was born in Hudson May 1852 a daughter to Mark Batchelder and Lydia Steele. Charles and Lydia settled and raised their family in Hudson; spending most if not all of their married life in this house on Central Street. Their oldest Clarence Charles was born April 1874. He was 38 years old when his wife Hattie passed leaving him with 8 children between the ages of 3 and 15. Their second child and only daughter, Lillie Jane,was born July 1877. She married a neighbor, Herbert Newton Smith and resided next door to her parents. Their second son George Henry was born October 1879. He married Edith Snow of Hudson. Their third son Ernest Josiah was born August 1883 and died young at the age of 15. The 1895 photo of the house includes the family of Charles C. and Lydia. From left to right we have Ernest with his dog, Clarence in the grass, Charles seated, Lydia, and Lillie Jane.

Members of the Parker family owned this house at 200 Central Street as early as March 1870 when Daniel Marshall, administrator for the estate of Moses Griffin, sold it at public auction to Josephine Parker in order to settle claims against the estate. A few years later it was transferred to Lafayette Washington Parker, the father of Charles Clarence. It is probable that Charles Clarence and Lydia moved into this house soon after their marriage even though some other member of the Parker family owned it. He did take title to the house in January 1887 after the death of his father Lafayette. Charles retained title until his death in November 1936.

By the will of Charles Clarence the title of this house was transferred to Florence and Ernestine. By 1989 Ernestine entered a local nursing home. Her son Raymond acting as her power of attorney sold the property to Randy Turmel and Kevin Slattery. Soon after thereafter fire destroyed the building. The property remains idle and is available for sale.

It is difficult to determine the age of the house. We do know that in 1858 it was the home of Moses and Dolly Griffin. In 1856, Moses Griffin of Somerville, MA purchased an acre parcel with building from Olivia Tenney. No clues who may have lived here. Moses passed at the age of 69 in July 1858 and was survived by his widow, Dolly, a son, George, and three daughters; Francis, Rachel, and Louisa Ann. He was predeceased by a daughter also named Louisa Ann who passed at the age of 2 prior to their move to Hudson. Dolly continued to reside in the home. After her death it was sold at public auction to settle the estate. Moses and Dolly are interned in their family plot in Westview Cemetery near their Hudson home.

 

Hudson Furniture and Home Fashions

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214 Central (Formerly Hudson Furniture)

  

Do your memories of Central Street along Route 111 in Hudson Center include Hudson Furniture and Home Fashions operated by Joseph and Ann Gagnon? Shopping for a dining room set, a sofa for your living room, or a comfortable chair for the den? Hudson Furniture offered a display of options with the convenience of local shopping.

Joseph (Joe) Gagnon purchased the Lester Gove residence in May 1969 and was soon operating Hudson Furniture. A few years later, as the adjacent residential property of Berkley Swinertin at 216 Central became available, Ann and Joe Gagnon made that purchase along with a smaller parcel from a local real estate agent. Gagnon then consolidated the three parcels and subdivided into two parcels. The first contained two plus acres and the preexisting buildings; Hudson Furniture and the dwelling from the Swinertin home. This dwelling would soon become Home Fashions. The second parcel was a small lot adjacent to Merrill Brook; over time this retail lot was used for Parent Farm Stand and other sellers.

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216 Central (Formerly Home Fashions)

 
    Hudson Furniture and Home Fashions operated until the mid 1990’s.   By1998 ownership transferred to the present owner, Justine Mary Holdings, Inc. who operates them as multiple  unit commercial properties.  These units are now home to a variety of businesses including iRoof, Northern Dynamics, Shattuck Rug and Flooring, Daigle Pools, Home Town Butcher, and a Tattoo Parlor.
216 Central C1955

216 Central C1955

    Looking into the history of this site we find that in 1858 there were two significant land owners on this part of Central Street.  Joseph Merrill, a farmer,  and his wife Nancy (Baldwin) Merrill lived adjacent to the brook which now has his name, Merrill Brook.  Joseph passed in June 1872 and his widow, Nancy resided on the homestead until she passed in 1897 at the age of 87.
     The second landowner, M. Griffin, had a homestead west of the Joseph Merrill home.  The Griffin home was located on what is now 200 Central Street (currently a vacant lot) .  By the early 1870’s  Charles C. Parker, a  bookseller and publisher from Nashua, purchased the Griffin homestead. Charles and his wife Lydia (Batchelder)  Parker moved to Hudson center where they raised their family of 3 sons (Clarence Charles, George Henry, and Ernest) and 1 daughter (Lydia).  By 1897 Charles Parker also purchased the Merrill homestead from the estate of Nancy Merrill.  The Merrill home remained in the Parker family until July 1958; passing from Charles C. to his granddaughters, Florence and Ernestine about 1945. The home was used as a rental unit until about 1955.  The family of Otis and Julia Barr resided there for some years up to 1955.  Julia is remembered today for her hair dressing salon operated in the ell of this home.  In 1955 the home was transferred  to  Raymond Parker, Ernestine’s son, at the time of his marriage to June (Brickett) Parker. At the time Ray was recently discharged from the Army and was working for a car dealership in Nashua.  He was spending spare time remodeling, painting, and wallpapering his future home. Ray and June lived here for the first three years of their married life  before moving to another house in Hudson as their first child Kathy was to be born in February 1958.    From July 1958 until  consolidation by  Joe Gagnon  this parcel was home to and owned by a number of families:  Halthwaite/Stone, McInnis/Sullivan, and Swinerton.
As stated, the Lester Gove residence was purchased by Joe Gagnon and morphed into Hudson Furnatire about 1969.  Mr. Gove and his family had lived there since the early 1940’s; purchasing the home from George H. Parker, Jr a grandson of Charles C. Parker.  This home had been known as the Woods House prior to purchase by Lester Gove.
As we stand across Central Street today and look at the buildings on 216-214  and lean back to get a good look at the old roof line behind the commercial facade, we do see a reminder of the previous residences and history along this section of Central Street.  The 1955 photograph is courtesy of June (Mrs. Raymond) Parker and her daughter, Kathy.  The 2010 photo were taken by the author.