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Revisit Rural Hudson … Smith Farm Stand on Kimball Hill Road

               H.E. Smith and Sons Farm Stand C1980

 

As we continue to revisit rural Hudson we stop at Smith Farm Stand on Kimball Hill Road.

With this week’s photo of The H.E. Smith Farm Stand on Kimball Hill Road we get to visit with another Smith Family in Hudson. By 1924 Elmer Frank and Ethel May (Connell) Smith and their young family of 2 sons (Henry Elmer and Robert Connell) and 2 daughters (Elizabeth Ella and Gloria Lillian) settled on a 300 acre parcel of land on what was then known as Pelham Road, now Kimball Hill Road. The location of the Smith parcel is at and near the intersection with Gibson Road and near the town line with Pelham.

Recently married Henry Elmer and Mary (Kayros) Smith began their dairy farm on a portion of his father’s land in 1933. At that time there were about 70 farms of various sizes in Hudson. Henry and Mary established their home around the corner of this farm stand on Gibson Road. Their they raised a family of 3 boys (Dustin, Tom, and Tim) and 1 girl (Nancy). The family continued with the dairy farm with all members helping out where they could. In 1963 they gave up dairy farming and switched to plants and vegetables and opened the farm stand as means to marketing their produce. This established a tradition which Henry’s son Tom has stayed with and has continued to the present with his own son, Dylan. Management of the farm and farm stand was passed from Henry to Tom in 1977.

Gloria and Elizabeth, sisters of Henry remained in Hudson after they married. Gloria continued to live on the family homestead and married Leslie Binks. Leslie was an animal trainer for Benson’s Wild Animal Farm; Gloria became became a prominent business woman and leader in Hudson. Her sister, Elizabeth married Richard Albee and they settled on Greeley Street; living there for many years and then moved to Alaska.

After raising their family Henry and Mary divided their home into 2 living quarters. Tom, his wife Tina, and their family lived there along side his parents. Henry passed in 1991 at 80 years of age; Mary passed in 2004 at the age of 94. Both remained on and helped with the work of the farm as long as they could. Today operating the farm remains a family affair: Tom, his wife Tina, their son Dylan, and a sister-in-law Charli. Tom’s daughters and his brother, Tim, helps with the operation from time to time.

The Smith Farm specializes in home grown vegetables and plants. It is estimated that over 90% of the products they sell were grown or started on their own farm. Often the stand will remains open through the holiday season specializing in holiday trees, wreaths, and kissing balls. The kissing balls are made by the Smith family; trees and wreaths are brought in from a reliable grower.

By February of next year work will begin in the various greenhouses starting a wide variety of veggies and flowers for both their own gardens and to sell in the farm stand as starter plants. When I talked with Tommy he said…”we’ll be here next year!!”

The Smith family has been farming on Kimball Hill Road since 1933. First Henry and Mary with help from their growing family. The oldest, a daughter Nancy, married and moved to Illinois and raised a family there. Dustin, the oldest brother, remained in the neighborhood and a close brother and friend with Tom, but opted for a different career path. He and his wife, Susan, began a computer business called ‘ComputerSmith’ in the 1980’s. Dustin lived nearby,just a quarter of a mile from brother Tom in the original Smith family homestead. Younger brother, Tim, lives in Hudson and helps with the work of the farm from time to time. The third generation, Diyan, works along with his father Tom.

The photo of the Henry E. Smith Farm Stand C 1980 is from the photo collection of the Hudson Historical Society.

The Home at 50 Kimball Hill Road

50 Kimball Hill Road c 1945

Older homes are usually named for the current resident, some previous resident or notable person who lived there in the past. Such is the case with the home at 50 Kimball Hill Road. It has been called the Ahearn house, the Crabtree house, and even the Daniel Merrill house. Whatever name it goes by this house, without question, is one of the earliest in Hudson. It was built before 1780; however I am not certain of the exact build date or who the builder was. The date on the chimney does indicate the house was built as early as 1768. The builder was either Asa Davis, his uncle Captain Abraham Page, or perhaps a joint effort between them.

Captain Abraham Page (b:1715 in Haverhill, MA) moved to Nottingham West with his father about 1747. The senior Page settled on what is now the Lowell Road somewhere near the junction with Dracut Road. The younger Page at about 31 years of age began to build his home on Bush Hill Road. Captain Page was a foster parent for Nathaniel Haselton. After Page passed in 1802 his house became a part of the Haselton Farm. It was later moved, by the use of ox team and rollers, onto Hamblet Avenue facing the Town Common from the east side. It was known as The Benjamin Dean house (see HLN February 23, 2018).

Asa Davis was born abt 1737 to Ephraim and Mary (Page) Davis. Mary was a sister to Captain Abraham Page; making Abraham an uncle to Asa Davis. Asa purchased acreage on Bush Hill from James Caldwell which became Asa’s homestead. This homestead was passed to his son Taylor Davis who in turn passed it to his son-in-law Augustus Morrison. It remained in the Morrison/Webster family until sold in about 1965. The current house on that location, the Morrison house, was built in 1780. History tells us that this 1780 home was built for Asa Davis by his uncle Abraham Page and that Asa lived at the 50 Kimball Hill road house while this home was being constructed.

Daniel Merrill was born in Rowley, MA March 1765. In 1781, at the age of 16, he served in the Army of the Revolution for 2 years, after which he attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1789. By 1793 he was preaching as a Congregational minister in Sedgwick, ME. By 1805 Rev. Merrill had converted to the Baptist theology and started a Baptist Church in Sedgewick. Many of his former church members were converted with him. In 1815 the First Baptist Church of Nottingham West (now Hudson) invited Rev. Merrill to become their pastor. He, and his family moved to Hudson and purchased this house from William Marsh. The next seven years were good times for the Hudson Church and for the Merrill Family. His daughter, Joanna, and Reuben Greeley were married and soon began a family of their own (see HLN July 26, 2019). His pastorate with the Hudson church came to a close in 1820. He did retain ownership of this house until August 1832 at which time he sold it to Paul Colburn of Hudson. Rev. Merrill passed June 1833 in Sedgewick, ME.

By July 1840 William Anderson from Londonderry purchased this home from Paul Colburn. It is unclear how long Mr. Anderson resided here, but he certainly contributed to our town’s history. In 1857 a building committee of four residents were given the authority to build the Town House in Hudson Center, now the Wattannick Hall. William Anderson was contracted to do the wood consruction. The total cost for the Town Houese was slightly less than $2,500; of which $1,900 was paid to Mr. Anderson.

From 1846 until April 1919 records show this home was owned by 6 different families. Carl E. Barker was a Nashua native and Margaret Baxter was from New Brunswick. They were married November 1913 in Hudson and purchased this home in April 1919. Carl was a woodworker for a door and sash company, Carl passed in March 1937 and by July 1939 Margaret sold the home to Allen F. and Dorothea S. Crabtree.

Allen F. Crabtree was a native of Effingham, NH and born in October 1906 to Allen F. and Laurina Crabtree. Dorothea Shay was native to and educated in the Boston area. After attending the Charles C. Perkins School in Boston she taught in the public schools in New Jersey for a time. By July 1939 Allen and Dorothea Crabtree and their family of two boys, Howard and Emery Daly, moved into their newly purchased home on Kimball Hill road. Their third son, Allen F. Jr. was born in Hudson February 1941. The oldest son, Howard, attended Hudson schools and later graduated from Nashua High in 1946. He studied chemestry at UNH graduating in 1950. Emery likewise attended Hudson schools and graduated from Nashua High in 1950. He studied mechanical engineering at UNH graduating in 1961. After attending college they both moved from Hudson. Allen, Jr attended Hudson schools and graduated from Alvirne in 1958.

The Living Room Fireplace

From 1939 until his retirement Allen Sr. was employed as a railway mail clerk, often commuting to Boston. During her time in Hudson Dot served on the school board from 1942 to 1953; including the early years of Alvirne. She became one of the early members of the Alvirne Trustees. She was also an active member of the Hudson Fortnightly Club. It was during their tenure at the house that much of the architecture and history of the house was recorded and photographed. In 1942 the Hudson Fortnightly Club wrote a booklet entitled “Old New Hampshire Houses Built before 1840 In Hudson”. A copy of this booklet is a part of the collection of the Historical Society. Dot Crabtree was one of four women who served on the committee to write this booklet. I share with you some of the ancient architectural features of this house.

From the photo of the house you can see the “off center” door a feature peculiar to early homes. The door itself was a double cross and is held together by wooden pegs. There is a hand made latch and sandwich type bulls-eye glass on the top.

Some of the roof boards were 20-24 inches wide and held in place with hand made nails with a split head which was bent to the left and right.

The original chimney was 12 feet square and made of hand hewn oak timbers supported by 8 foot field stones resting on the cellar floor.

Chimney Base

The upper room is 13 by 17 feet with an arched ceiling. It is recorded that this room was used by the Rev. Daniel Merrill for his study. This arched ceiling is a feature found in the Benjamin Dean house which was built by Captain Page.

Window sashes were very thin and fastened with wooden pegs. The glass panes were small and showed 9 panes over 6 panes.

In May 1952 a fire occurred which severely gutted the rear and side of this house. The house was rebuilt but many of the original features and antiques were lost.

After his retirement Allen and Dot sold the house to George and Vivian Ahearn in March 1960. They then removed to his native Effingham where he served as Selectman, Fire fighter, Police officer, and civil defense director. He was active in the Masons. Dot became active in the local Eastern Star, Grange, and women’s Club, She passed in February 1972. Her husband, Allen took over a weekly newspaper column she had been writing and he continued to write for the Carrol County Independent until he passed in April 1980. Allen F. III is currently living in the Sebago Lake area of ME.

George and Vivian Ahearn lived here for almost 25 years. Vivian passed in 1982 and in 1984 George sold the property to Mark and Ginette Lafreniere. The home is currently owned by Kayla O’Connor.

The photo of the house and fireplace are complements of Allen F. Crabtree, III. Allen and his wife Penelope reside in Sebago ME. Allen is the proprietor of a used book store (CrabCol.com) and a blueberry farm. The photo of the chimney base is from the Fortnightly booklet.  Written and researched by Ruth Parker.