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Do You Remember Fast Day?

State House 1852 engraving

NH State House 1852 Engraving

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.

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NH State House

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.

World War I Memorial and Libary Park 1922

Library Park WW1

View From WW Marker C 1922

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.

WW I Marker 2019

View From WW1 Marker 2019

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.

Some Ancient History of the Hill Family of Hudson

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Aerial View of Garrison Marker

The immigrant ancestor for the Hills Family of Hudson was Joseph Hills; born in England in 1602 he sailed in 1638 on the “Susan & Ellen” and settled in Charleston, MA (later set off as Malden) where he became active in town affairs.  He was a lawyer, leader of the militia, and held many important officers.  He later moved to Newbury.  In 1645, he served on a committee to set off lots in Nashaway Plantation and  In 1648 he wrote the first laws for the colony of Massachusetts.  In return for his services to the colony, he received a grant of some 500 acres in what is now Hudson in 1661.  Of these acres, 450  ran from a few rods north of the Taylor Falls Bridge, north along the east side of the river  beyond Derry Lane to include the site of Hills Garrison.  When the Town of Dunstable, MA was chartered all 450 acres were within the boundaries of that town.
Joseph passed away in 1688.  By his will he divided the 450 acres into 9 parcels  and passed ownership to members of his family.  With one exception no settlement occurred on any of these parcels until ownership passed at least one more time and outside the Hills Family.  The one exception was the northern most parcel of 89 acres he passed to his son Samuel.  By 1710, Nathaniel, Henry, and James, three of Samuel’s sons, built and occupied a garrison house on their father’s land.   Nathaniel was about 27, Henry about 22, and James about 13 years old.
By 1721 Samuel deeded the northern half of his land to Henry and the southern half to son James.  In 1723 James married Abigail Merrill and a few days later he sold to Samuel Whiting and they moved to Newbury.  Some time before 1732 Nathaniel purchased a 900 acre parcel of unsettled land from Jonathan Tyng.  This parcel also bordered on the river and was adjacent to and north of what had been his father’s 89 acres.  Samuel passed away in 1732.
Some time before 1733 Nathanial and his family moved from the garrison onto his 900 acres.  He set up a dwelling about 1/2 mile north of the garrison and near the bank of the river.  He later established and operated a ferry across the river, known as Hills Ferry.  This was operated by him or one of his descendants until 1827 when the first Taylor Falls Bridge was built.
In 1733 the town of Nottingham, MA was chartered to include all Dunstable land east of the river.  In 1734 the town of Litchfield, MA was chartered.  This charter established the southern boundary of Litchfield at the northern most part of the Joseph Hills grant.  Thus, the acres owned by Henry were in Nottingham, MA.  The acres Nathaniel had just purchased were in Litchfield.  About 1739 or 1740 Henry sold his land and the garrison to Deacon Roger Chase.  Henry then moved 1/4 mile east and established a farm on his brother’s land.  By that time none of the Hills Family had any ownership interest in the garrison or the Hills Grant. The families of Nathaniel and Henry were residing on the western part of Nathaniel’s 900 acres.  James, his wife and 4 small children had returned to Nottingham, MA and settled on a farm (now 20 Old Derry Road) which he acquired from his brother.
In 1740 the boundary between NH and MA was established and by 1746 Nottingham West, NH and Litchfield, NH were chartered.  These charters established the boundary between those two towns as we know it today.  During this period of uncertainty over state and town boundaries there were a number of residents  in nearby Londonderry which were of the opinion their homes would become a part of Nottingham West.  When this did not happen these residents petitioned to be annexed.  This became final in 1778 when some 4600 acres of Londonderry became a part of Nottingham West.
Henry Hills remained on his farm until he passed in 1757.  A few years later it was conveyed to his nephew, Elijah Hills.  Elijah was the grandfather of Alden and the great-grandfather of Dr Alfred K. Hills.  Alvirne High School and the surrounding grounds, including the Hills House, are on land which was a  part of this farm.  As time progressed Henry Hills Jr purchased the  farm  which is now 34-36 Old Derry Road.  Also, Nathaniel Hill Jr established a farm (now 62-64  Old Derry Road) upon part of his father’s land.
From 1661 to 1780 the one constant was the land and the location of the land that Nathaniel, Henry, and James and some of their descendants lived on.  Around this many things changed:  What state are you in?  What town do you live in?  Are we being taxed by more that one town?  What county seat do we use to record land purchases?  In the next few weeks we will be Remembering … some of these properties along and near Old Derry Road. This weeks photo, an aerial view of Garrison Farm, shows the original location of the historic marker  for the Hills Garrison.    The marker is in the open field behind the barn left of the roadway through the field.

World War II Honor Roll and War Memorial

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WW II Honor Roll at Library Park

 

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 the registration of young men for the draft was begun by the Draft Board of Exeter, NH. Registration of Hudson men was held in February 1942 in the lower room of the Hills Memorial Library. Males between 18 and 45 were registered and classified. The total population of our town was then about 3,400.

Members of the American Legion Post No. 48 constructed an honor roll on the east side near Library Street) of Library Park in 1942. As individual men and women entered the service their name was added to the honor roll. As the number of service men increased the initial honor roll board became filled and was replaced by a larger one. The Post Commander, Webster W. White, and a committee of three members, Robert Pratt, Chairman, Paul Buxton, and Harold Farnum with cooperation of the Town Clerk were responsible for the posting of names.The earliest photo shown here is that of the World War II honor roll with some 368+/- names as listed in the Town Report for the year ending January 31, 1944. After the hostilities ended in 1945 this honor roll remained in place on Library Park. Just how long it remained, I am not sure. After it was removed there was no War Memorial for veterans of World War II or any subsequent wars or conflicts until August 1991 when the American Legion erected the present War Memorial.

War Memorial 2016

War Memorial 2016

The Hudson Veterans War Memorial is in honor all who have honorable served in our armed forced, both living and deceased, during all conflicts of our great nation. This project was started in 1989 and authorized by the veterans group in early 1990. Past Post Commander “Billy” Mitchel promoted the original concept, which was further refined by other post members. As with most projects of this magnitude, help from many sources were needed. Mr. James Arsenault designed the center of the monument, Hudson Monument Company was contracted for the stones and artwork. Employees of the Hudson Public Works Department volunteered services for the groundwork, concrete was provided by Brox Industrues, and Hudson Paving Company formed the foundation. The completed memorial was dedicated Sunday August 18, 1991 as part of Hudson’s Old Home Days. Both photos are from the collection of the Historical Society.

Ferry Street May 30, 1949

Behind this week’s photos we find not one story but two!  The first being the Sherman Tank and army vehicles heading down Ferry Street.  The second is the story behind the houses along Ferry Street we see in the background.

Memorial Day May 30, 1949 Ferry Street

These photos were taken May 30, 1949.  In that year Memorial Day observations for Hudson were  held over a two day period.  The activities were under the direction of American Legion Post #48 with Roger L. Boucher as Chairman of the Memorial Day Committee.  On Sunday, May 29th the Legion and Auxilliary attended Mass at St. John The Evangelist Church.  In the afternoon Post members joined with veterans’ organizations from Nashua and parishioners of St. Patrick’s Church Parish in the dedication of The War Memorial at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Hudson.
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Memorial Day 1949

On Monday Morning, May 30, a parade assembled on First Street with the line of march proceeding to Ferry Street and down the hill to Library Park assembling for the activities to be conducted there.  This  parade included a police escort, parade marshall and representatives from veteran’s and service organizations from Hudson and Nashua.  In these photos we see one modified Sherman tank.  According to newspaper write-ups the next day, there were actually six such tanks included in the Hudson parade.  At Library Park Harry Salvail  Past Post Commander was the Master of Ceremonies.  The guest speaker of the day was Elliot A. Carter of Nashua.  Wreaths were placed on three markers in honor of those who gave their lives for their country.
On Monday afternoon American Legion Post 48 participated in the Memorial Day Program in Litchfield where a tablet was unveiled in honor of the war dead of Litchfield.  The Sherman Tanks, at least five of them, proceeded to Nashua to participate in the Memorial Day parade through the streets of Nashua.
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Sherman Tank on Ferry Street

The second story is with the houses along Ferry Street we see in the background; what is now 44 and 46 Ferry Street.  In the mid to late 1940’s and in to the 1950’s there was a large increase in traffic along Ferry Street; automobiles and gas were more available and  individuals were traveling to Nashua for employment.  During this time period there were a number of small Mom and Pop enterprises opening up.  Of course we remember The 20th Century and before that Sal’s Market. There were also the smaller variety stores like Bradley’s Market at the corner of Library and Ferry.  Even further up Ferry at what is now 44 Ferry was a small variety store operated by Herbert and Mary Shepherd.  If you lived in that area and/or attended Webster School or Hudson Junior High School,  you may have memories of your own.  George Abbott remembers going across the field between School Street and Ferry Street to buy snacks from ‘Mamie’ Shepherd on his lunch hour during Jr. High.  Neil Cunningham who lived further down on Ferry Street remembers his Mom sending him to ‘Mamies’  for a loaf of bread.  Carol (Whittemore) and David Flewelling remember going there for candy and ice cream.

Mary  ‘Mamie’ and Herbert Shephard

Mary ‘Mamie’ (Perkins) and Herbert Shephard  lived in what is now 44 Ferry Street from about 1946 until Herbert passed in 1961; at which time Mary continued to live there until 1972.  During this time Herbert was employed as a bus driver, a railroad worker, or a grocer.  Mary operated a grocery or a variety store there in the mid to late 1940’s.  Mary lived her final years in Milford with family. 44 Ferry street is now a private residence.
These photos are from the collection of the Historical Society courtesy of Paul Whittemore.  My thanks to Carol Flewelling for her assistance with the research.

Pre-Civil War Cannon at Library Park

Cannon at Library Park C 1942

                  Cannon at Library Park C 1942

This US Navy Cannon at Library Park and an identical one at The Hudson Center Common, sat for years on their respective concrete moorings.  Children would play on then, walk up the  steps of the mooring and sit horse-back on the barrel of the cannon.  Many family and group photos have been taken on or around them through the years.  Occasionally on Halloween, teens would decorate the cannons by pouring random colors of paint over the barrel.  The cannons were soon repainted in black by the wandering teens at the request of the Police Department or else  by the Highway Department or some service organization.
It is my understanding that these two 3-ton cannons were brought from the New Hampshire Armory on Canal Street in Nashua to Hudson in May 1929  through the efforts of Harry Emerson.  One of them was placed on Library Park and the other at the Hudson Center Common.  These cannons were cast in 1848 in a foundry near Boston  and their serial numbers are within 2 digits of each other.  The Library Park Cannon was fired but we are not sure if it was actually used in battle and if so, which battle.  Harry Emerson was a long time resident of Central Street and at the time a custodian at the armory.  He served the town of Hudson for over 50 years as a member of the Fire Department.  Serving as Chief from 1946 to 1952.
The Library Park cannon remained silently on the park until September 2, 2015 when it was involved in a collision with a school bus which was the victim of faulty brakes.  Fortunately there were no students on the bus and the driver was not injured. Realizing the brakes were faulty the driver steered the bus onto the park, grazed a tree, hit the cannon and stopped!  The cannon itself was not harmed but the concrete mooring was pulverized.  The cannon and debris were removed by the Highway Department.
Library Park Cannon 2016

                              Library Park Cannon 2016

For several months the cannon was at the town garage being sand blasted, restored, repainted, and a new mooring constructed.  Earlier,  in May of this year it was returned to Library Park; thanks to the efforts of our award winning Highway department; the recipient of the First Annual Community and Cultural Heritage Excellence Award sponsored by the Hudson Historical Society.  Photos from the Society’s collection.

First World War Monument at Library Park

WWI Monument Library Park 2016

First World War Monument 2016

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.
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Bronze Tablet Listing Servicemen

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 raise a tablet to honor these men and by early 1922 this granite boulder and attached bronze tablet was placed on Library Park by the Town of Hudson at a cost of $977.65.  Of these young men 3 of then lost their lives during the conflict.  On June 25, 1921 members oft he local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Chapter planted 3 maple trees nearby on Library Park near this monument as a memorial to Carlton  Petry, Merrill Spaulding, and Leland Woods.  Photos from the Historical Society Collection.