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History has informed us about the Greeley Public Library but this week we look at the man behind this library, Adoniram Judson “AJ” Greeley, MD.
A Hudson native he was the oldest son of Joanna (Merrill) and Reuben Greeley. Reuben owned a farm in Hudson Center adjacent to the Town Common; a prominent leader in town he served as postmaster, town clerk, selectman, representative to the legislature and an early members of the First Baptist Church. AJ’s mother, Joanna, was born in Sedgwick, Maine where her father, Rev. Daniel Merrill, was the pastor of the local church. Rev. Merrill served in the Revolution and graduated from Dartmouth College. He first served as a Congregational pastor but converted to Baptist and became a leader in the Baptist movement in New England. Rev. Merrill and his family moved to Hudson, then Nottingham West, in 1814 when he accepted the call to be the pastor of the Baptist Church here in Hudson. One could say the rest is history as Reuben, a prominent young man, and Joanna, the pastor’s daughter, were married in Hudson November 1817.
In September of the following year their first child was born and named Adoniram Judson Greeley in honor of the first protestant missionary sent from North America to serve in Burma. He was a New Englander and a Baptist, so it was natural that Reuben and Joanna named their first son in his honor.
AJ’s childhood home exists today at 234 Central Street, the parsonage of the First Baptist Church with the church located next door at the corner of Greeley and Central Streets. Much of the land surrounding 234 Central was Reuben’s farm; including the site of the church, and extending up Greeley Street and west along Central Street. During these early years the Baptists met in the north meetinghouse located near the site of the present Wattannick Hall. The Baptist meetinghouse was not built until 1842 when AJ was 24 years old. Neither did the church have a parsonage, Rev. Merrill and his family occupied a home on Kimball Hill Road.
AJ’s early education was from his parents and a local one room district school; most likely district #4 located on Kimball Hill Road. His high school education was at the Academy and Theological Institution in New-Hampton, NH. Following high school he attended Brown University in Rhode Island graduating in 1841. He then did medical studies at Harvard and received his MD in 1845. He practiced medicine in Searsmount, ME for about 10 years moving to Clinton, MA for a short period and then settled in or near Providence, RI area where he practiced nearly 40 years until his sudden and unexpected death in 1893.
In addition to medicine he had an advocation for antiquity. He traveled to various countries and was particularly knowledgeable about Europe and Egypt. He was known to have a sizeable estate which included his personal library of nearly 3000 books. In his will he bequeathed some 500 volumes to the town of Hudson for a library.
Dr. A. J. Greeley died unexpectedly at the age of 74. He was found unconscious in his office and passed away the next morning at a local hospital. A local police officer was doing rounds and noticed a trail of blood outside in his doorway. He followed the bloody trail to the doctor’s office where he was found unconscious. At first his passing was considered an accident, suffering head injuries as the result of a fall. Dr. Greeley did leave a blood stained note instructing whoever found it to get in touch with his brother, H.C. Greeley, the executor of his will. Following his death and an examination of his body the medical examiner declared his injuries were not consistent with an accident and his death was considered a homicide. The theory being he was attacked during a robbery as he was known to carry money on his person. It is unclear if anyone was prosecuted for this crime.
The rest is history. His brother was the executor of his estate. Through AJ’s generosity and the generosity of his heirs nearly 2000 volumes of his books came to Hudson over the next few months to form the nucleus of the Greeley Public Library. A.J. himself was returned to his hometown where he was laid to rest in the family lot in Westview Cemetery along with his parents and four of his siblings. Our first photo is of the book plate of the Greeley Public Library showing the early method for cataloging books. The second photo shows Dr. A. J. Greeley’s memorial in Westview Cemetery.
Three Haselton Sisters
In most New England towns many families are interrelated even though they have different last names. Hudson is no exception. This week I introduce you to three sisters who grew up on Bush Hill Road, each of whom married men from Hudson, thus making one extended family out of four.
Luther Haselton, age 29, and Polly Ladd Smith, age 28, were married here in Nottingham West in 1826, most likely at the Baptist Church in Hudson Center. At that time the Baptist Church was meeting in the North Meeting House, located about where Wattannick Hall is now located. Luther and Polly lived on the Haselton Farm on Bush Hill, in the house adjacent to the Haselton Barn, long since removed. Their family consisted of 2 sons, David and George Washington; and 3 daughters, Hannah Page, Louisa Ann, and Marietta. Members of the Haselton family were hard working, prosperous, considered honest, and prominent in the community. Today I wish to focus on the three daughters and the men each of them married.
Hannah Page (Haselton) Smith
Dr. David Onslow Smith graduated Harvard Medical School in 1850 and established his practice in Hudson with a reputation as a highly skilled physician. He was also an educator and excellent musician; noted for his singing voice, as a conductor of choral groups, composer, and organist. He was also an educator leading a private music schools and serving on the school committee for the Town of Hudson. He married Mary Hannah Greeley in 1855 and they had 5 children: Minnie, Edmond who died young, Martha Robinson, Herbert Lewellen, and Henry Onslow. Mary passed in 1867, leaving Dr. David Smith with a family ranging in ages from 3 to 11. In 1874 Hannah Page Haselton and Dr. David Smith were married. Although they had no children of their own she did enter the existing household and continued with the raising and providing a home for the family. Also, when the time came, Dr Smith and Hannah adopted one of his grandchildren, David Onslow Smith, Jr.
Louisa (Haselton) Robinson
Alphonso Robinson, born 1837, was the 5th generation of the Robinson family to live on and work the farm on Robinson Road. The family homestead at the time was small, likely about four rooms. Alponso lived here with his parents John Anderson and Marinda (Caldwell) Robinson, his grandfather David, and 3 siblings. Louisa Ann Haselton and Alphonso were married in 1862; soon thereafter the small home was enlarged to more than three times the size to allow for multiple generations. Alphonso passed in December 1918, having spent his entire life living on his native homestead. He was a well respected in town and knows for his high ideals.
Marietta (Haselton) Buttrick
Clifton Buttrick was born in Wentworth, NH July 1846 and moved to Hudson about 1850 when his mother, Sally (Cutler) Buttrick married John Bunyan Robinson. Clifton grew up in a Robinson household with two half sisters, both of whom passed young. Clifton and Marietta (Haselton) Buttrick were married before 1869; living on Clifton’s farm located on Windham Road in Hudson Center. They had one son, Ernest Clifton who died young and twin daughters, Clara and Sarah born December 1870. At some point the twins opted to change their names to Belle and Maybel. Marietta passed in July 1873 at the age of 42. By 1874 Clifton married a second time to Charlotte Colburn. I was surprised to learn that when a son was born to Clifton and Charlotte, he was named George Washington Buttrick after Clifton’s first brother-in-law and friend. Clifton was a respected farmer, served as selectman and trustee and long time member of the Baptist Church. He passed in 1935, at which time he held possession of the Boston Post Cane. The twins lived into their mid 80’s. Maybel became Mrs. Jarome Melvin and settled on Barretts Hill Road. Belle remained single and remained on the Buttrick farm. Both were well known in the community.
Here we have four families Smith, Buttrick, Haselton, and Robinson who become one larger family by virtue of the marriages of these three sisters. This shows the importance of following the maternal lines when tracing family history. To use a favorite expression, each of these sisters became the woman behind each of three respected Hudson statesmen.
The photos shown here are of Louisa Ann (Haselton) Robinson and Hannah Page (Haselton) Smith. I do not have a photo of Marietta (Haselton) Buttrick. The photo of Louisa Ann, my great grandmother, is from my private collection. The photo of Hannah Page is from the Historical Society collection, complements of the H.O. Smith Family.