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It is not possible to determine where or at what time the early mills were established in Hudson. From early maps, deeds, and family history we do know that Edward Foster Eayrs operated a mill on Eayrs Pond near the intersection of River and Chalifoux Roads as early 1877. Edward maintained the dam on Eayrs brook to control the water level of the pond and to generate sufficient power for the mill. After his death in 1913 members of his family operated the mill for a while.
Edward Foster Eayrs was born March 1840 in Nashua, a son to John and Lucy (Hartwell) Eayrs. The history of the Hartwell family can be traced to the early 1700’s of NH and MA. Likewise the Eayrs (also spelled Ayers) has a history into the 1600’s. The Eayrs family, John and his brother James, operated a mill in northern Nashua, likely along the Pennichuck brook. Census records credit John as owning a ‘drug mill’ in Nashua; a name which has a different connotation from today. This mill was used to grind herbs and roots which were then used for medicine. Some of these were used by relatives in Lowell for Ayers Sasprillia and other medicines.
Edward worked as a ‘drug grinder’ until his father passed in 1861; after which he worked with his Uncle James. In September 1864 Edward enlisted in the Union Army, serving in Company F, New Hampshire 1st Heavy Artillery. He was mustered out on 15 June 1865 at Washington, DC. Returning to New Hampshire he returned work with his uncle in the mill and later later became a partner. After his uncle passed Edward moved the mill machinery to Hudson, between 1877 and 1880, and began operating the mill at Eayrs Pond.
By 1860 there was a coronet band of about 20 young men under the direction of Edwin T. Baldwin of Manchester and later of Nashua. The Republican Party hired his band during the 1860 presidential campaign for Abraham Lincoln. After the war broke out most members of this band enlisted for four months as musicians in the First NH Regiment. The name of this band was changed to the Nashua Coronet Band. At some point Edward Foster was a member of this band as he was chosen as their president in 1877.
The farm of James Cutter and Abigail (Putnam) Ford were neighbors to the mill at Eayrs pond; living west of River Road on Ford Road (now Chalifoux Road), Their daughter Charlotte Augusta (born June 1857) married Edward Foster Eayers and they built a home on the east side of the pond on River road. Their family consisted of four girls: Ida (born 1884), Lucy (born 1886), Cora Belle (born 1889), and Nellie (born 1890). Of these four daughters we will continue with the line through Cora Belle.
At the age of 20, Cora Belle Eayrs married Walter F. Ducharme of Lowell in July 1909. They had one son, Walter Frederick, born April 1910. This was a short marriage which ended in divorce. In February 1919 Cora Belle married Orin Moody from Rhode Island. The Eayrs home on River Road became the childhood home of Walter Frederick, his mother Cora Belle, and his step-father Orin Moody. Orin worked at the mill until it was sold. The homestead was sold by Moody in April 1939 after living there more than 20 years.
To bring the descendants of Edward Foster Eayrs and Augusta Charlotte Ford up to the present time we find that Walter Frederick Ducharme married Eva Veronica Frenette, a native of Quebec Canada, on November 1927. Their family consisted of Lena, Walter (Sonny), Sylvia, and Joan each of whom remained in Hudson.
Getting back to the mill and Eayrs homestead. The Eayrs homestead located east of the pond on River Road remains today remodeled into three apartments. The photo of the Eayers Homestead if from the Historical Society collection complements of the Ducharme family.
The mill building at Eayrs Pond likely dates to about 1767. After operation by members of the Eayrs family there have been a number of owners. In August 1969 the mill and surrounding 4 plus acres was purchased by Nashua Optometrist Louis P. Guertin and his wife Shirley. During their ownership the State of NH claimed the pond as it exceeded 10 acres. Since then the state has regulated the dam to control water level of the pond. After Dr. Guertin passed Shirley subdivided the parcel into two lots on Stone Mill Drive. The old grist/saw mill is now a residence at 2 Stone Mill Drive. The early photo of the mill is also from the Historical Society collection complements of the Ducharme family. The current photo of 2 Stone Mill drive is from the town records.
In 2004 a large portion of Lowell Road, including that section near the Presentation of Mary (PMA), was widened to accommodate the increase in traffic. Prior to this project the historic gates embraced the driveway which lead from Lowell Road to the oval in front of the PMA building. Once the right of way for the reconstructed Lowell Road was laid out these gates were found to be in the way and had to be moved. When the project first started it was estimated the gates could be moved for about $50,000. The early image of the PMA gates is from a post card compliments of Gerald Winslow.
When plans were finalized the historic gates would be moved approximately 75 feet back from Lowell Road. Once moved the gates would grace the front of the property but they would no longer embace the driveway to the Presentation. A new and safer driveway entrance to was planned opposite the Executive Drive intersection with Lowell Road. This change in the driveway would also permit safer access of fire equipment to PMA as the modern vehicles were too large to pass under the gate. According to a July 2004 article in the Hudson Litchfield News, once the bid specs for moving the gates were prepared nine bid packages were sent out, but only two actual bids were returned. Both of these had prices far in excess of the planned $50,000.
The gates were not on the National Historic Register but they could be eligible to be on the register and the project to move the gates could not endanger this eligibility. The exterior bricks on the gates had been replaced in 1980. The granite blocks used in the foundation and the wrought iron work on the top of the gate were deemed as the important pieces. In actuality parts of the gate, such as the wrought iron fixtures and the sections on the top and bottom were salvaged and new gates were built back from the widened roadway by about 75 feet. This work was completed in September and October of 2004. The modified driveway was completed in 2003. The recent photo of the gates was taken by the author this past week. I wish to acknowledge an article “Presentation of Mary Gates to be Moved” authored by Lynne Ober which appeared in a July 2004 edition of the HLN.
Popular at the time was The Steak Barn on Lowell Road was located on a part of the Benton Morgan farm. By 1976 a part of his farm where Ben raised cattle, hens, and vegetables was transformed into a modern restaurant and racquet club. The large plastic bubbles housed the racquet (tennis) club. His old chicken house was modernized and converted into the Steak Ban.
The Steak Barn Restaurant and Topspin Racquet and Tennis Club located on Lowell Road c1976. This photo was taken by the Historical Society while preparing for The Town in Transition. The location of the Steak Barn Restaurant The Monroe Muffler Shop (250 Lowell) and the Tennis Club was located in what is now the parking lot for the Walmart Store at 254 Lowell Road.
The farm fields of the Frank Winn farm stretched between what is now Winn Avenue and Winnhaven Drive at Lowell Road. Development included apartment buildings, candlepin bowing lanes, banks, and restaurants. Of particular interest to those familiar with Hudson is the series of restaurants which have existed at 49 Lowell Road. By my count there have been 10 different restaurants at this location since 1964. They are: Winstead, Hayward Farms, Pizza by Giovanni, Straw Hat, Primo’s, Ziggy’s, Stevie P’s, Yaght Club, Charmans, and SOHO. Did I miss any?
This week we visit the homestead of Frank Almon and Effie May (Wyeth) Winn on Lowell Road. Frank moved to Hudson from Pelham with his parents, Franklin A. and Lizzie Winn, about 1883 when he was 8 years old. His family purchased a farm of over 70 acres which stretched from Lowell Road to the river. Across one part of the farm was a large brook which traveled through fields and woods, making it’s course through the rocky gorge to the river. This is where Frank played, grew, and worked with his family. By today’s landmarks, this farm includes most, if not all of , the land between Winn Avenue and Winnhaven Drive (between 35 and 49 Lowell Road) and extending westward to the river. Between these roads and adjacent to Lowell Road was a large tilled field for growing vegetables for market. The family home with the large attached barn was located at what is now 1 Winn Avenue and faced this field. On December 24, 1958 the barn was destroyed by a spectacular fire. The fire fighters were able to save the house.
As a young man Frank made his way across the United States, but he soon returned to his home here in Hudson. Along with his parents, he tilled the farm fields all his life. In due time he came into possession of the farm. In September 1915 he and Effie May Wyeth were married; and it is here that they raised their family. Frank was a tireless worker with both his hands and his head. He not only knew about agriculture, he also knew about the wider world of business and economics.
Effie May was born in Nashua, May 1886, and educated in Nashua schools and Keene Normal School. Prior to their marriage in 1915, she taught school in Nashua. She later did substitute teaching in Hudson, Pelham, Merrimack, and Nashua. Frank and Effie May raised a family of 3 girls; Lillian Emma (b: about 1918), Effie May (b: about 1921) and Frances (b: about 1923).
Frank passed in September 1935, at the early age of 60; Effie May and her daughters continued to live at the homestead. By the end of 1942 all three daughters were married. Lilliam Emma was married to Walter Schindler; Effie May married Clayton Oban; and Frances Stebbins married Alton Drown. Mrs. Winn, Effie May, was a resident of Hudson most of her 97 years. She passed in 1983 at the home of her daughter Frances (Drown) Hosmer, with whom she had lived for a few years. Many Hudson residents remember Effie May; particularly with her involvement with the Hudson Fortnightly Club for over 50 years.
As time advanced and the land usage changed, the Frank A. Winn farm was developed. At first with the apartments and residential buildings in wooded area and adjacent to the river. Later the farm field between Winn Avenue and Winnhaven Drive were developed. The earliest development occurred in 1963 with the construction of LNL Bowl at what is now 8 Winn Avenue. Named for the three owners: Earl Libby, Leon Noel, and Adrien Labrie; LNL bowl offered candlepin bowling lanes, a sport unique to New England, The lanes operated until 1978. By 1979 this site became the home of Dessault Engineering Associates. It is now home to Opti-Sciences.
By 1964 construction began for the first of many restaurants to operate at 49 Lowell Road, likely owned by members of the Winn Family. The Winstead Restaurant began operation in 1965. By 1969 this was the site of Hayward Farms Restaurant. Over the succeeding years a number of restaurants were located here. From what I can piece together the list is as follows: 1972 – Pizza by Giovanni; 1980 Straw Hat Restaurant; 1984 Primo’s. Following Primo’s there were Ziggy’s, Stevie P’s, Yaght Club, Charman’s, and presently SOHO.
Construction for Nashua Federal Savings and Loan at 45 Lowell Road began in 1979. A bank has remained at this site; becoming Bank of America and more recently Enterprise Bank.
We’ve heard the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words”. That is the case with this early 1940’s photo of the house, known as “the bee hive” located on what is now 73 Central Street; opposite what many remember as the home of Leon and Gerri Hammond. To the right and slightly behind this house we see two homes; the right most of these is located at 65 Central Street, home to Henry Frenette. The second, smaller home, is at 1 Lowell Road and home to Alfred Bastien.
A few first hand memories have been documented about the “bee hive”. The first is from Maurice “Nick” Connell who grew up in Hudson and later recorded some of his memories via a series of occasional articles in The Hudson News. In one such article (August 24, 1984) “Nick” recalls the “going’ swimmin'” routine of his gang of friends in the 1930’s. They would swim and dive in the Merrimack River near the railroad bridge abutments; then walk the tracks to the Lowell Road underpass and explore the “old haunted house” on Central Street near the overpass. He remembered this two storied, weather beaten structure also known as the “bee hive”. This nickname was applied to the house because of the strange and shady goings on there. This reputation added to the excitement of the barefoot summertime explorations of a group of young boys. They would walk the tracks to Melendy Pond, another popular “swimmin hole”. According to Nick, this house was torched by some unnown arsonist on November 1, 1945 and torn down on November 27, 1945.
Another memory of this house was left by Leo J. Gagnon. He recalled Anton’s restaurant and their parking area on the opposite side of Central Street – where a house called the ‘bee hive” once existed. By his memory this house was a half-way house. Other memories I have heard suggest it was a frequent and convenient “overnight” stop for individuals catching a free ride on the train as it passed through Hudson then on to West Windham, and Rochester, NH.
Speaking of the railroad, the second photo shows a portion of the Hudson zoning map for 1942 from the Hudson Town Report. This map traces the route of the steam railroad from the river to the overpass at Lowell Road where the tracks crossed over Lowell Road and ran behind the ‘bee hive” house and continued on to Melendy Road, “Long crossing” and Hudson Center.
A few additional details are known about this house. According to the town report for 1947, the Walton land on which was situated the so called “bee hive” was purchased (at least in part) by the Town of Hudson from the State of NH.
By 1870, and possibly before, this house was home to Samuel Walton, (age 49), his wife Fanny (age 48), and their daughter Sarah (age 21) and son James (age 19). Samuel was born about 1817 in England and was employed in a shingle mill. Based upon census records Samuel lived here until his death in February 1892, at which time the home was passed to his daughter, Susan (Walton) Brown, and his son, James Walton. His wife, Fanny had predeceased him by a year. At the time of his death he had an ownership interest in the Melendy Mills. With Central Street in your front yard and the railroad tracks in your back yard, the lot upon which this house existed was likely reduced in size and attraction through the years. By 1897, Susan and James sold the house to William Fitzgerald of Nashua. Samuel Walton purchased the property from Joseph Fuller and Fred Steele in 1868. After being sold by members of the Walton Family this house had a variety of owners, tax issues, and foreclosures.
In February 1999 in an effort to remember those fire fighters who had fought and those who have fallen the Hudson Fire Department announced they were seeking to build a new and larger memorial. A modest memorial for fallen firefighter James Taylor did exist in front of the Library Street Station. Their plan was for a larger memorial which would be dedicated to all men and women of the Hudson Fire Department. A Memorial Committee, chaired by David Moran was organized and they proceeded to design and raise funds for such a memorial. The committee reached out to town and school officials for a suitable location. A number of sites were considered and by April 2000, their plans had cleared the final hurdle. Ground breaking began and by May 21, 2000 the Hudson Fireman’s Memorial was dedicated upon a grassy knoll at the intersection of Central Street and Lowell Road. The location of this memorial has been named Hammond Park in memory of firefighter and neighbor Leon Hammond. Hammond Park and the fireman’s memorial is located upon or near the site of the Samuel Walton home, more recently known as the “bee hive”.