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Join me for a celebration of the fourth of July 1829 style!
The date is July 4, 1829 the place is Nottingham West, NH. The occasion is the celebration of the fifty third anniversary of American Independence. This celebration occurred near and around the town common at what is now Hudson Center. I will share a (partial) transcription of a news item from he New Hampshire Patriot & Gazette July 20, 1829 (Vol 1 Issue 3 Page 3).
But first a sense of what the common and it’s surroundings might have been like in 1829. The common was a 3 1/2 acre triangular piece from the farm of Deacon Henry Hale. This 3 1/2 acre parcel had become cut off from the rest of his farm because of roadways. It was surrounded by what is now Windham Road, Kimball Hill Road, and Hamblett Avenue. It looked more like a public pasture than the evenly mowed and landscaped area of today. It did include the cemetery but if there was a wall around it; it was a loose stone wall. The common and cemetery date back to about 1771. There were no fir trees; no mill stones, no cannon, no flagpole, and no minuteman marker as seen today. The earliest photo we have of the common is shown here; taken 1888.
The Baptist church had been organized for 24 years; but they held services in the North Meeting House (located near the site of the present Wattannick Hall) This meeting house had been used for town meetings since about 1771 The Baptist Society had owned the north meeting house since 1811; their pastor was Rev. Benjamin Deane. As there was no parsonage house he provided his own dwelling place; a house across from the meeting house on Hamblett Avenue facing the common on the eastern side.
Where the Baptist Church is located today there was a dwelling and a store – Marshall’s store. To the left of Marshall’s store was the home and barn of Reuben Greeley. In 1829 this was the site of the Post Office. This house remains today and is the parsonage house of the First Baptist Church.
Opposite Marshall’s store on the other side of the common and across Kimball Hill Road was Tenney’s Inn. The present site of this Inn is kept mowed by the Hudson Highway Department. Dr. Dustin Barrett was the resident physician and he lived nearby on Windham Road.
A replica (in part) of the newspaper account of the Fourth of July Celebration of 1829 as printed in NH Patriot & Gazette and as archived by genealogybank.com is our second photo. Now for the transcript..
CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH OF JULY
The fifty third anniversary of American Independence was celebrated at Nottingham West, by the citizens of that and the neighboring towns. The following gentlemen were chosen officers of the day, viz:- Capt. C. S. Ford, President; Zacheus Colburn, M.D. Vice President; Capt. Joseph Blodgett, Daniel T. Pollard and Joseph Deane, Committee of Arrangements; Capt. David Robinson and Lieut. Isaac Colburn, Jr. Marshals.
At 12 o’clock a procession was formed near Mr. J. Tenney’s Inn, under the direction of the Marshals, and proceeded to the meeting house, accompanied with instrumental music. The audience being seated, the Throne of Grace was addressed by Rev. Benjamin Deane, and the Declaration of Independence read by Dr. Dustin Barret; after which an able, spirited and truly patriotic address was delivered by the Rev. Benjamin Deane. The services at the meeting-house were closed by appropriate music under the superintendence of Capt. J.P.F. Cross. The procession again fomed and marched across the common, where about seventy partook of a sumptuous and splendid dinner, prepared by Mr. James Tenney. — The cloth being removed, a series of sentiments were given by Thomas B. Wason, Esq. and Dea. Robert Bartley, toast masters, accompanied with music, and the discharge of artillery. No accident or irregularity occured during the day, and the people retired at an early hour.
The remainder of the article lists various toasts given by some of the citizens in attendance. Here are a few of them:
The Fourth of July – When Americans shall cease to celebrate the birth day of their Independence, and forget those sages who proclaimed it – then will men have become degenerate and unworthy to be called the sons of Freemen.
The Constitution of the United States – A cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to every true American.
The Revolutionary Heroes, who planted the tree of liberty and watered it with their blood. – We pledge our own to cultivate and defend it.
Traveling down Kimball Hill Road in 1946 one paused in front of the Hudson Center School for this photo of Hudson Center. Moore’s General Store, at the base of the cemetery and at the intersection of Hamblett Avenue and Kimball Hill Road, began operation about 1925 when Earl “Dinty” Moore purchased the store and house from Harvey Lewis. At the time Earl Moore was a rural mail carrier for Hudson but his family helped with the operation of the store. Harvey Lewis had operated a general store at this location since about 1888.
The large, 2 story home in the foreground was home to Earl and Vesta Moore and their family. Behind the house to the left you can see the general store. Parking was limited to along the streets and the short driveway between the store and the house. Ownership of the store passed from Earl to his son Kenneth. Later, Kenneth’s brother-in-law Morillo Post entered the business. After Morillo passed, the business was sold to David and Robert Thompson, both of whom grew up nearby on Hamblett Avenue and had worked for the Moore Family in previous years. The Thompson Brothers operated the store at this location until November 1969 when fire badly damaged the building. Rather than rebuild on this site the Thompsons relocated their business to 230 Central Street, now the location of the 7-11.
This property was rebuilt to a smaller size and then rented and later sold. It is now the location of the ever popular Kahil’s sub and sandwich shop. You may ask what became of the Moore family residence? At some point in time it was moved across the street and up the hill slightly to what is now 9 Kimball Hill Road. This allowed for some parking and permitted the town to widen the streets.
Looking at the rest of the photo, we see Hamblett Avenue looking toward Wattannick Grange. Also, beyond the cemetery are the Baptist Church and the church parsonage. At the time of this photo, this was home to Jessie (Wentworth) Gilbert. As a point of
comparison we have included a photo of that same location in 2017.The mailbox and driveway on the left are for 9 Kimball Hill Road, the current location of the Moore home.
Photo courtesy of Esther McGraw and a part of the collection of the Historical Society.
Each year as part of the Hudson History Tour students delight in ringing the bell located on the front lawn of the Hills House. This bell once hung high above Hudson Center in the tower of the old two room school house on Kimball Hill Road. A few rings from this bell would announce to all the beginning of classes or the end of recess or lunch period.
The Hudson Center School was built in 1908 as a replacement for the Smith School on Windham Road which had burned. Why this alternate site was selected rather than rebuilding on the original site is not entirely clear; but I suspect it had to to with the need for a reliable and safe water source. By the beginning of the school year 1908 this bell had been placed in the school tower where it would remain for over 65 years. The bell was given to the town by Henry C. Brown, a well known resident of Hudson Center. Mr. Brown served as Postmaster of the Hudson Center Post Office located in the train station which sat along side the tracks off Greeley Street and behind the Town Hall (not Wattannick Hall). His residence was on Kimball Hill Road opposite the Hudson Center Common and the Baptist Church. His house became part of the Benson Farm property and was demolished by the state prior to the town’s ownership.
From 1908 until 1956 students from the Hudson Center and even West Windham attended this two room school house for grades 1 thru 6. I myself remember attending grades 1-3 with Mrs. Marguarite Gilman as teacher; and then grades 4 and 5 with Miss Florence Parker. By my 6th year we were seeing the possibility of closing this school house due to small enrollment at Hudson Center and available space in the schools in the bridge area. I attended Webster School for the 6th grade and then on to Alvirne for grades 7 -12.
The old school closed in 1956 and remained unoccupied until mid 1970’s. By that time the property and school building were owned by Mr and Mrs Robert Thompson. In 1974 with the help of the Hudson Fire Department the bell was removed from the tower and placed in the bed of “Charlie” Parker’s pick-up truck. It was then transported by “Charlie” and his brother Eric to the Historical Society. The Society contracted with Adrien Labrie to construct the bell stand for $485.00. There the bell remains awaiting the occasional ringing by students or visitors to the grounds — especially during Old Home Days.
Charlotte and Judah Mellen purchased the Bagley Farm in the spring of 1939. This farm was located in Hudson Center on the left side of Barretts Hill Road just a few hundred feet after turning from Windham Road. The nine plus room house, barn, out-buildings, and open fields were located up the hill and overlooking Windham Road. Our photos of the farm house and grazing herd of dairy cows were taken about 1960. The Bagley Farm had been in the family since about 1900.
Initially the house had white clapboard siding and a one-pipe hot air heater, most likely powered by wood or coal. Over time the clapboards were replaced with light green siding and the heater replaced with steam heat powered by oil. The out-buildings included a small garage and on the hill above the garage a building used at first for the two dapple gray work horses and later to house the John Deere Farm equipment. There was a large dairy barn for their herd of Holstein and Guernsey cows. Hay was stored in the lofts. At one end of the barn was an attached milk room; on the other end two silos.
At first the dapple greys were used for the farm work. The land could not be worked fast enough with the horses so, when it became possible the John Deere equipment was purchased. It was a worthwhile investment. The fields were adequate for cutting and storing hay for the winter, except on a dry summer. Then hay from Canada was purchased through Mr. Charbonneau who trucked large trailer loads from Canada. There was not enough cleared acreage to also raise corn for silage. As a result corn was purchased from a farmer on the Litchfield Road. Their son Clayton would cut the corn, load it onto two platform trailers, and then haul it over the roads with the John Deere tractor. The silos were filled each year.
The main produce was milk from the 30 dairy cows. The farm also had ever bearing raspberries which Charlotte trucked to Nashua and sold to various markets. The Mellen family farm operated until 1965 when Judah retired. By December of that year the 155 acres was sold to Edward and Lois Roy and the Mellen family moved into a house on nearby Frenette Drive in Hudson.
Son Clayton was about 10 years old when his folks purchased the farm. He helped with the farm work as a teen and attended Hudson and Nashua Schools. He later worked for a Milwaukee, Wisconsin company. He moved to Wisconsin, married, and raised his family there. He passed in 1997. There were also two daughters, Ruth and Esther. They both attended Hudson schools, later married and moved from Hudson. Ruth and her family lived in Amherst, NH whereas Esther lived in Springfield, VA. Judah passed in 1988 at the age of 87 while he and his wife were living at Frenette Drive. In addition to helping Judah with the farm operations, Charlotte taught elementary school in Merrimack for 14 years, retiring in 1978. She passed in 1999 at the age of 95 while living in Amherst.
You may ask what became of the 155 acres? By April 1966 plans were before the town Planning Board for Greeley Park Subdivision by RoyCraft Homes, Inc. After development this subdivision gave rise to Daniel Webster Drive off of Greeley Street. Later, by 1984 another subdivision plan was submitted; this for Barretts Hill Estates, This development gave rise to Lois Drive, Roy Street, and some of the development near Rangers Drive.
information and photos of The Mellen Farm were written by Charlotte about 1985. They are a part of the Historical Society collection.
In the late 1940’s traffic along the Route 111 corridor known as Central Street in Hudson Center was on the increase. This was the result of the popularity of Benson’s Wild Animal Farm as well as the convenience of automobile travel for business and pleasure. Businesses were beginning to open up or relocate to this section of the highway. One of these that holds a permanent place in our memories is “The Meadows”, a seafood restaurant.
In September 1947 John Wollen, founder and long time owner of The Meadows, purchased about 20 acres on the east side of Central Street from Perley B. and Clara E. Smith. The Smith’s lived in the area and Perley operated a Cider Mill just a few lots south towards Belknap Road. By the spring and summer of 1949 The Meadows opened for business and soon became a popular eating place for the locals as well as the tourists visiting Benson’s. Their menu included fried clams, haddock, scallops, and sandwiches along with onion rings, french fries, and cold slaw. A soda fountain was added for drinks and ice cream based deserts. In 1962 a miniature golf course and a shuffle board court were added just north of the restaurant and near the meadow around Merrill Brook.
John Wollen was born in Hudson and educated in Nashua Schools. He was the founder and owner of Meadows until a short time prior to his passing in November 1985. He also operated the McNulty and Foley catering and function hall when it was located on Amherst Street in Nashua.
The Meadows was destroyed by fire on November 23,1992 after business was closed for the day. A neighbor across Central Street noticed the flames and called the fire department. The fire was fought by the Hudson department with assistance from Londonderry, Windham, Nashua, and Litchfield. At the time the building was owned by Arthur Bursey of Manchester and the restaurant operated by George Apostolopoulas of Wilmington, MA. The Meadows did not re-open following the fire.
Many Hudson residents remember Berk and Son Farm Stand and Scott’s Wood craft which operated on the northern end of The Meadows parking lot adjacent to Merrill Brook. Little remains of The Meadows except our own memories of the delicious seafood and the summer evenings playing miniature golf. The 20 plus acres with 500 feet of frontage onto Central Street which Mr Wollen purchased in 1947 has been idle for many years and is on the commercial real estate market.
Today’s photo of “The Meadows” was taken about 1975 at the time of the preparation of “The Town In Transition” an update to Hudson’s History.
A trolley line through Hudson via Ferry Street was opened to the public in 1902. At the end of Ferry Street the line went through the woods behind Westview Cemetery, making a sharp turn right and crossing Central Street near Burger King and onto the Benson’s Property towards Bush Hill Road and behind the Haselton Barn, and then on to Pelham and Canobie Park in Salem. This line was popular because of the Canobie Lake Park destination; it was also the most dangerous because of the sharp turns and hilly terrain coupled with the desire to maintain speed.
Our photo for this week shows a lumberyard in the field behind the Haselton Barn on Bush Hill Road. Planks of sawed lumber have been stacked for drying before distribution or use. Evident are the tracks from the wagons used to transport to and from the saw mill. Although the tracks for the trolley line are not visible, we get a sense of where they were from the electric lines behind the barn and near the lumber piles. On the rear of the barn is a sign “Haselton”. Why place a sign on the back side of a barn? For the benefit of those traveling on the electric trolley.
This undated photo is from the collection at the Historical Society; but, my estimate is circa 1905. The trolley line is present and the cupola is on the barn. The donor indicated the lumberyard was operated by George Washington Haselton and his brother-in-law Clifton Buttrick. Buttrick was another prominent Hudson Center farmer living on Windham Road. He married Marietta Haselton about 1869. Unfortunately she passed in 1873 before her husband and brother were in the lumber business together.
For many years prior to his passing in 1802 Abraham Page, Jr (also known as Captain Abraham Page) owned and occupied a farm on Bush Hill Road. Mr Page and his wife did not have children but they brought up Nathanial Haseltine after he was 12 years old. In 1795 Nathanial bought the farm from Mr. Page; payment being 234 pounds and a life lease on the premises – thus Mr Page assured himself and his wife of living quarters and support for the duration of their lives. Nathanial Haseltine married Rachel Smith that same year and soon thereafter they changed the spelling of their name to Haselton.
According to Kimball Webster in his History of Hudson,NH there were 2 houses on this Page/Haselton farm as early as 1793. The first was the one built and occupied by Mr. Page; later (by 1836) removed from this farm to Hamblett Avenue in Hudson Center on the east side of and facing the common.
This week we have an early photo of the second house on this farm; built adjacent to the barn perhaps as early as 1793. This house, first occupied by Nathanial Haselton, became home to 4 generations of Haseltons. The first was Nathanial and his wife Rachel. The second was his son, Luther, and his wife Polly Ladd Smith; then George W(ashington) and his wife Lora Poor; and fourth Arthur W. and his wife Mary McCoy. Arthur W. and Mary were married in 1891 and lived here until about 1895 when they built and occupied the present farm house on the opposite side of the road. George W. Haselton remained in this old house until his passing in 1906; at which time ownership passed to his heirs. In 1942 the house and barn were sold to Ben Brintenal and just 3 years later again sold, this time to Ray Lathan and a group of businessmen who had purchased Benson’s Animal Farm. Between 1906 and 1942 the house and barn had various occupants and uses. By 1945 the house was dismantled and the materials used to build a smaller home on Ferry Street. The barn remains today and is part of the Benson Park property.
This is one of the earlier photos in our collection at the Historical Society; presented to us by a member of the Haselton Family. In this photo we see the Haselton Barn and adjacent house before the addition of the cupola. This photo is undated but according to the Benson’s Historic Structures Report prepared in 2003 for The Town of Hudson, NH the cupola along with other additions to the barn were completed between 1885 and 1910.
Including the present family, the Haselton Farm on Bush Hill Road has been home to 6 generations of Haselton’s. The first generation was Nathaniel; born 1762 in Nottingham West (now Hudson). By 1795 Nathaniel had purchased the farm and buildings from Abraham Page, Jr. Mr Page had no known children of his own; but history tells us that he helped raise Nathaniel Haseltine. As part of the sale agreement Mr. Page and his wife secured a life lease on the property; thus assuring themselves of a dwelling place for the duration of their lives. Mr. Page was a farmer and a builder; a trade he learned from his father. A number of 1700 vintage homes in Hudson have been traced back to these builders. Nathaniel married Rachel Smith in 1795 and soon thereafter changed their name to Haselton.
This week’s photo was taken C 1920 from a hillside above and slightly south of the home of Arthur Haselton built about 1895; now the home of Don and Beverly (Gates) Jackson at 25 Bush Hill Road. Their home is on the right side of the photo and faces Bush Hill Road. Opposite this is the Haselton Barn and an older Haselton family home to the right of the barn. In the background is a view of the hillside with Benson’s Animal Farm to the right.
Throughout history the Haselton Farm is known to have 3 different houses; often two at any one time. The first home was located on the same side of Bush Hill Road and slightly south of the present Jackson home. This home was built by and lived in by Abraham Page,Jr. The second home is the house adjacent to the barn. Exact date for the construction of this house is unclear but could be as early as 1793.We do know that by 1826 the first house was moved from it’s Bush Hill location to Hamblett Avenue facing the Hudson Center Common and was the home of Rev. Benjamin Dean, then pastor of the Baptist Church. This house ultimately became the home of Richard and Claudia Boucher and their family; and when Route 111 was built through the Town Common, the house was again moved from Hamblett Avenue to it current location on Windham Road.
This second house became the family home to 4 generations of Haseltons: Nathaniel, Luther, George, and Arthur. The home on the opposite side of the road was likely built by or for Arthur Haselton C 1895. This barn and the adjacent house remained in the Haselton Family until 1943 at which time it was sold to Ben Brintnal. By 1944 the barn and property on that side of Bush Hill Road was sold to The Laphan Group, the second owners of Benson’s Animal Farm. It was about this time frame that the house was dismantled and the materials used to construct a smaller house on Ferry Street.
Of all the buildings which were part of the Haselton farm, the most noteworthy is the 3 story barn with cupola. Perhaps initial construction as early as 1761, this barn was used in each of three centuries. Changes and additions have been made over this period of time, evolving the architecture and construction to match the changing use to which the building was put. Additions made to the barn between 1889 and 1910 included the addition of the cupola; now removed from the barn and in storage for future restoration. Analysis of the barn structure shows a 3 story barn, set into a bank (hillside) so there are entrances to each story at grade level. Today this barn on one of the historic buildings in Benson Park.
The family of Arthur Haselton included his wife Mary McCoy, 2 sons (Merton and Page) and a daughter, Lillian. Lillian married Joseph Gates and their family included Joseph, Jr, Beverly, and George. Some of us have personal memories of Joe and Lillian. Joe Gates had a natural ear for music and served as the church organist at the Baptist Church. During his organ postlude at the conclusion of a service I have known him to break into a rendition of Happy Birthday in honor of his wife, Lillian, or other family member. The present occupants are Don Jackson and his wife, Beverly Jackson; Beverly being the 6th generation in the Haselton line.
188 Central Street at the corner with Burnham Road was home to Ivan Robinson Smith and his family of Mary (Manning) and their son Donald. Ivan was employed as a molder in Nashua; retiring from White Mountain Freezer Company. This Smith family homestead was a family farm on about 3 acres of land. Ivan was born in Hudson in 1897 and lived the better part of his life on this farm. Our first photo shows the Smith home in 1942 shortly after it was reconstructed and reduced in size following a fire. The fire started in the house and destroyed about 50% of the house and the entire barn. The house, white with shutters, had a doorway and driveway onto Central Street. After Ivan’s death in 1966, Mary and Donald continued to live here until the property was sold to the Cloutier Brothers for commercial purposes in 1972. A few years prior to this final sale two other parcels had been sold. The first was sold as a residential lot to Mr and Mrs George Tetler who became good and faithful neighbors to the Smiths, living at what is now 21 Burnham Road until 1979. The second parcel was for commercial purposes and gave rise to the commercial building at 23 Burnham Road. After the sale of their home Mary and son Donald moved to a house on Tessier Street here in Hudson. Mary passed in 1990; known for her gentle disposition despite being bed ridden for over 20 years with arthritis. Donald attended Hudson schools, graduated Alvirne and Andover Institute of Business. He retired from The Telegraph as Business Manager after 45 years of service. He remains in Hudson, living on Glasgow Circle.
Prior to Ivan this was home to his father Marcel and his grandfather William. William moved here from Massachusets with his family in the 1800’s. Hudson has a number of Smith families; and as far as we know, there is no known connection between this Smith line and the others in our town.
Our second photo shows the corner of Central and Burnham C 1977 as photographed for the “Town in Transition”. In the foreground is Hudson Professional Building built by Cloutier Brothers; now the location of Family Vision Care, Sapphire Salon, Julies, Merry Maids, and Electrolysys. At the time traffic flow at the corner was controlled by a stop sign – no traffic light!
Further along on Burnhad Road we see the private residence at 21 Burnham; originally home to Mr and Mrs George Tetler. In between is the commercial building at 23 Burnham; the location of Hudson Hair Design and Veteran Chimney. Two other commercial sites, not shown on this photo,were built on the Smith Homestead. They are Hudson Endodontic and Clean Monster Car Wash at 182 and 184 Central Street.
Thanks to Don Smith for the early photo and information about his family home. The 1977 photo is from the Historical Society collection.
Any story about Centronics Data Computer begins with Robert Howard. Earlier in his career Howard worked with An Wang (Wang Laboratories) on computer systems for the casino industry. This led Howard to invent the dot-matrix printer, and soon after he started Centronics Data Computer with 7 employees in Hudson, NH about 1968. Centronics commercialized the small dot-matrix printer which helped fuel the explosion and popularity of personal computers. From this small start-up the company grew to more than 6,000 workers worldwide, including 3,000 in NH. Robert Howard passed in 2014 and is remembered for his curiosity and his generosity. He is credited with the invention and popularity of the dot-matrix printer and the parallel interface. During his lifetime he formed more than two dozen companies. After Centronics he later founded Presstek and Howtek in Hudson during the 1980’s.
Centronics purchased a 3 acre land parcel from Clement Industrial Park on Route 111 in 1969 with an agreement to begin construction of a commercial building costing no less that $70,000 within 6 months. Clement Industrial Associates was formed in the 1960’s by a group of Hudson residents desiring to foster the growth of industry within town. This park was built on a portion of the farmland of Harry and Mildred Clement. The old Clement Farmhouse which burned in 1935, was located on the corner of what is now Clement Road and Route #111, about where Tip Top Tree Service is now located.
By 1971 Centronics was operating from this building on Route #111, The company reached a prime about 1979 with annual revenues over $100 million. The business of small printers became very competitive; plus there were product problems and lawsuits. By 1982 Control Data Corporation (CDC) merged their printer business into Centronics; invested $25 million in the company and took the business control away from Howard. By 1987 Control Data sold the printer business to GENICON. Using the proceeds from this sale, Centronics purchassed EKCO Housewares in 1988 and the company was renamed EKCO.
This commercial property is located at 1 Wall Street in Hudson and shown in this C 1977 photo from the Historical Society Collection. This building is now a part of Century Park, LLC and is home to Nutfield Technology, Princeton Technical Corporation, American Infrared Solutions, and possibly others.