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20 Old Derry road was once a part of a 100 acre farm settled by James Hills in 1737. James was born into the large family of Samuel and Abigail (Wheeler) Hills of Newbury, MA in 1697. By 1710, James, then a lad of 13, along with 2 of his older brothers, Nathaniel and Henry, built and lived in a garrison house on the east bank of the Merrimack River on their father’s land in the town of Dunstable, MA. By today’s landmarks this garrison was located on the east side of Webster Street a short distance north of Elm Avenue. Sometime before 1722 Samuel deeded the southern half of his Dunstable land to James and the northern half to Henry. The oldest brother, Nathaniel, had already purchased 900 acres adjacent to and north of his father’s property from Jonathan Tyng.
James married Abigail Merrill of Newbury, MA in December 1723; soon thereafter he sold his interest in the garrison land and took up residency and began his family in Newbury. About 1737 James and Abigail with their young family of a son, Jeremiah, and a daughter, Hannah, returned to New Hampshire. There had been 3 additional children but they passed at a young age before they moved from Newbury. Returning from Newbury James acquired 100 acres of unsettled land from his brother Nathaniel. It was here that James settled and established the farm. Three additional children were born to him after moving to what became Nottingham West, now Hudson. James lived the remainder of his life on this farm, passing about 1751. The farm remained with his family. By 1800 his grandson William owned the farm. William was born July 1777 to Jeremiah, the oldest son of James. William likewise lived out his life on this farm passing it to his second son, Granville in 1852. By 1877 the farm was owned by a Charles W. Hill(s). It is not entirely clear how Charles W. acquired the farm. Apparently the next family member in line to own the farm was living in the Midwest and choosing not to return he sold his interest to a cousin, Charles W. Hill(s). It is clear that the last Hill having title to the farm was Mary Elida (Hill) Robinson daughter of Charles W. Hill and wife of Frank L. Robinson. Mary Elida was born in Hudson May 1878 and married Frank Robinson in Nashua January 1909. At the time of her marriage she was employed as a teacher in Nashua and Frank was employed as a railroad worker in Nashua. In November 1926 the farm was sold outside of the Hill(s) family and purchased by Grant Jasper. A quick note before the reader gets too confused over Hills vs Hill. In July 1846 Grandville Hills changed his name and that of his family Hill by an act of NH Legislature.
The James Hills (aka the Granville Hill) Farm had been owned by as many as 6 generations of Hills over a period of 180 years. Over these years the farm acreage was reduced from 100 to the 40 acres which Grant Jasper purchased from Mary L. (Hill) Robinson in 1926. From 1926 until 1958 the 40 acre parcel changed ownership 4 times; in 1958 the owner at the time, Harry Tuft, sold 28 acres, including the colonial house, to Ralph and Nellie Weaver who later sold to Lionel Boucher in November 1962. This was the beginning of major changes in the landscape of the farm. Within a month a survey was done and the colonial home along with the current 1.39 acres was separated from the remainder of the farm and sold to John and Margaret Aldrich. The remainder of the farm was surveyed and subdivided for house lots. Our story line continues with the colonial home.
In February 1973 the home was purchased by William and Carol Murray and their son, Terrance. Owning this fine colonial home had a major influence on the lives of this family. They acquires an appreciation and love for antiques and the structure of this home. Much of the following information was reported by The New Hampshire Sunday News and published May 18, 1975.
Change became a two way street when the Murray family moved into this 1800 colonial home in 1973. Not only did they bring about changes by restoring the old colonial, living there changed their life style and interests. Carol developed a sudden interest to furnish her “new” home with period furnishings. Her fascination with “old things” began to rub off onto her family as both son Terrance and husband Bill develop an interest. Bill took to restoring the house; removing modern door knobs and replacing with period latches, all while using groves in the wood where the originals once were. Walls were torn down and replastered; wide floor boards were scraped and refinished. Old chairs were stabilized and in some cases the caning or rush seats replaced. Their interest was such that the Murrays planned to open an antique shoppe and augment the items for sale with some of Carol’s hand crafted items.
Parts of this house were likely built about 1800 during the ownership of William, grandson of James. There is evidence that the present building resulted from two separate buildings being melded together into one. This is shown by two massive beams 12 inches wide running one over the other the width of the house in the attic. Also, one of the upstairs rooms is at a different level, requiring a step up/step down to enter/exit the room. There are 9 rooms, 2 chimneys, and 8 fireplaces; all of which were functional. The kitchen fireplace is deeper than the others with evidence of a baking oven at one time.
This was found to be an old house with lots of hidden charm; one where the Murrays liked to reside in and where visitors liked to come. And here the Murray’s stayed for 27 years until Carol sold in August 2000. Since the Murray’s this colonial has hosted four owners; the most recent, Hughes and Titianta Lafontaine, took ownership a few months ago. Welcome to Hudson!! Researched and written by Ruth Parker.
Of the ten district schools number 9 is the only house remaining. Each of the others have been demolished and replaced with a dwelling or converted into a dwelling. Number 9 is privately owned by the Jasper Family and was restored by Shawn Jasper in the late 1970’s.
Before 1886 the No 9 house (Kidder District) house was located on what is now Robinson Road. The approximate location was on the left side of Robinson (as you turn up the hill from Old Derry Road) towards the top of the hill. The No 10 house (Hills Row District) was located on what is now Old Derry Road (earlier Derry Road) just north of the intersection with Greeley Street. These two districts were merged into a single district and this No 9 School House was built by the town of Hudson in 1886. It operated as a one-room school house until 1932. In the mid-1930’s Grant Jasper purchased the property from the town. The No 9 Schoolhouse is the only one which survives intact as a school house. In the late 1970’s it was renovated by Mr. Jasper’s grandson, Shawn. The school house is owned by Jasper Corporation.
This home, located at what is now 154 Old Derry Road, became a part of our town’s history in 1828 when it was purchased by Nottingham West (now Hudson) and used as the town Poor Farm or Alms House. In those days the resident poor were kept at the town farm; those who could worked the farm in an effort to produce food for all residents of the farm. The town maintained this farm for some 40 years until 1868 when the farm was sold and the few paupers which existed at the time were boarded out to private homes at the expense of the town. It was common for towns in this area to maintain a poor farm, supervised by the Overseer of the Poor. It was, in essence, their welfare system. As uncomfortable as this concept makes us feel, we need to realize there were no pension plans, no social security, no food stamps, no insurance to address medical and or hospitalization expenses. Any number of life events could have caused one to end up at the poor farm: living beyond ones means, mortgage foreclosure with no options to refinance, not making plans for your old age or for your widow after your death. Couple any of these events with no family able or willing to to care for you could place one in this desperate situation.
By 1869, with the Town of Hudson providing for the poor by boarding them in private homes at the town’s expense, the town farm on Old Derry Road was sold to members of the Senter family. Proceeds from the sale were used to assist families of veterans of the Civil War.
The home at 154 Old Derry Road, the former Alms House, is now the delightful home of Al and Marikaye Garnett and their family. The Garnetts purchased the home some 25 years ago in 1992. I had the opportunity to visit with Marikaye in the living room of their home just before Thanksgiving. As you enter the home from the steps leading to the three season room (previously a summer porch); you enter the beautifully rustic but modern kitchen. From there we entered the living room. Sitting on one of the couches I had a complete view of their back yard with a fenced in swimming pool. Beyond fence was a field leading to a wooded area. Just before the wooded area one could see the iron chain fence installed by the Town of Hudson to identify the location of the Poor Farm Cemetery.
We spoke of the master bedroom which previously was the common area or social center for the residents of the poor farm. The stone fireplace, paneled walls, and large picture window gave no sense or memorabilia of the town paupers who called this house their final home. Any such reminders are behind the dry wall or the paneling or on the beams of the attic. Prior to moving into 154 Old Derry Road the Garnetts performed a tradition common to their faith, a house blessing. They went from room to room praying and telling Jesus they wanted to use this house for His glory. O yes, they have heard stories and experiences of previous owners; but for themselves, these past 25 years the house has been at peace.
Within my memory this house has been home to members of the Farrington (1985 – 1992), Gould (1970-1985), Mazzarella (1966-1970) and Dube (1940 – 1966) families. In 1940 Albert and Lydia Dube moved their family of five (Theresa, Gertrude, Alice, Leo, and Claire) into the old farmhouse. A second son, Paul, was born a few years later. The farmhouse was on one side of the road; the barn nearly opposite the house on the other side of the road. Here the Dube family resided; working and living on the family farm, delivering milk to the local dairy for processing, attending local schools, and participating in 4-H activities. When farming activity had ceased Albert and Lydia converted the barn into a house for himself and his wife, Lydia. After the remainder of the farm was sold in 1966, they continued to live in what had been their barn. This house at 157 Old Derry Road is now home to their grandson Neil Lavoie and his family.
Attached to the garage ceiling is a large antique hay fork . This was used to lift the loose hay from the hay wagon up into the loft of the barn for winter storage. This relic remains as a fond reminder of the farming days of their family.
Of the six members of the Dube family, five are living in New Hampshire and one in Florida. The oldest, Theresa at age 90, lives in a retirement community on Webster Street here in Hudson. Gertrude, next oldest, lives in Florida. Alice and her husband George Lavoie reside in Londonderry. Leo, the oldest son, graduated from Alvirne, served in the Air Force and later established a veterinary practice in Henniker. He has since retired. Claire graduated from Alvirne and she and her husband Paul Bouffard live in Bartlett, and Paul, the youngest is living in Hookset.
Today’s photo, taken by the author, shows the Garnett home, the former alms house, at 154 Old Derry Road as seen today.
Do you have memories of the Nadeau Dairy Farm at 98 Old Derry Road? Perhaps you stopped by and visited the cows; taking pictures while they grazed in the field or lay resting while they chewed their cud to take digestion to the next level!! Perhaps you drove past and saw the tractor and hay baler getting the crop ready for winter storage. One of my memories is intentionally driving past the farm near Halloween to see the numerous Jack-O-Lanterns positioned along the side of the road, gazing out of a barn window, or perched and lighted from the top of the blue silo. This was a local tradition prepared for us by the Nadeau family with help from friends and neighbors.
This four generation dairy farm had it’s beginning in 1902 when Joseph Lambert and his wife Mary were living in Nashua but looking to move to a dairy farm. In July of that year they purchased this home and farm from the heirs of Jackson Greeley. Joseph ran a milk route into Nashua. He later added chickens and pigs with the remainder of the farm was used for grazing and growing feed for the cows.
Joseph and Mary raised a family of six. Their daughter, Marion, married Emery Henry Nadeau in 1935. They lived on and worked the farm with her parents; purchasing from them in 1941. For another two generations and most of 70 years the farm continued; first with Marion’s son Emery E. and later with her grandson, Emery E.,Jr. The senior Emery E. was responsible for the day to day operations of the farm since the age of 14 when his dad, Emery Henry, took a job in Nashua. By 1961 Emery E. and Shirley (Craig) were married. They raised a family of 3 children; Lori, Emery E. Jr, and Elizabeth. The younger Emery joined the family business upon graduation from Alvirne High School in 1982.
By 1995 Emery E. then age 50 was working a herd of 75 milkers which produced about 205 gallons a day!! The electronic milking machines delivered the milk directly into a storage tank where it was cooled and kept at temperature until drained by a milk hauling truck in the small hours of the following morning. At that time this farm was the last commercial dairy farm in Hudson with the exception of the farm in operation at Alvirne High School. Working the farm was hard work which was done by the entire family with help from neighbors during haying and harvest time.
The Lambert/Nadeau farm operated for nearly 100 years; from 1902 until 2000. Within a short time machinery, livestock, and property were sold. The homestead and farm buildings on the south side of the road were purchased by Keven Slattery. Using much of the old farm buildings it is the location of Nadeau Industrial Park. The farmhouse has had many improvements and is now a 2-unit rental. The acreage on the north side of the road is under development as Senter Estates.
In 2009, following his avocation for the dairy farm, the younger Emery was hired as the Alvirne Farm Manager. His mother, Shirley remains active; working at Checkers Restaurant within the culinary department of Alvirne. This past month, as part of the Second Annual Historical Society Gala, Emery Nadeau, his mother Shirley, sisters Lori and Elizabeth and their families were awarded the Community Service Award for their work to make the Alvirne School Farm a valued resource in Hudson.
The house at 98 Old Derry dates to 1793. Jackson Greeley, the youngest son of Moses and Mary (Darby) Greeley was born in Hudson November 1815. Moses Greeley was born in Haverhill, MA in 1787. By 1793 he had moved to Nottingham West and was a single father with two young daughters. His first wife, Mary Greeley, had recently passed, and he was (or soon would be) married to Mary Darby. It was Moses Greeley who was responsible for building this farmhouse. He and his wife Mary had 10 children of their own; plus Moses’ daughters from his first marriage. Moses lived in this farmhouse until his death in 1848 at the age of 83. Ownership of the farm passed to Jackson Greeley who likewise resided here until his passing in 1894. It has been said that this home was used as a tavern because of the location on the roadway between Nashua and Derry. This may have been the case but, based upon what I have read to date, I cannot state it as a fact .