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Natural Descent of the Merrimack River

Iron Taylor’s Falls Bridge in Moonlight

Hudson’s western boundary is marked by a delightful section of the Merrimack River; stretching from Litchfield on the north, some 6.5 miles south to the state line with Ma. River crossings to Nashua occur at the Sagamore Bridge at the south near Walmart and at the Taylor’s Falls Bridge and Veterans Memorial Bridge near the Nashua River. There has been a Taylor’s Falls Bridge in this area since 1811. Initially a wooden toll bridge, then an iron bridge, a concrete bridge, and now the southern bridge of the twin span which dates to the 1970’s. So, the question is: Where were the Taylor Falls and what became of them?

The Pawtucket Falls in the Merrimack River at Lowell, MA was an important fishing ground for the Pennacook Indians during the pre-colonial times. “Pawtucket” is an Algonkian word meaning “at the falls in the river”. These falls were a barrier to commercial travel along the river to the early settlers, leading to the construction of the canal in the late 1700’s. In order to maximize the hydro-power and control the flow to the canal, a dam was built at the top of the falls in 1820 and expanded in 1840. The final structure exists in much to same form today, consisting of a stone dam topped with five foot wooded flash boards, This dam had the effect of raising the level of the river some 8 feet near the dam to 4 feet as far north as Cromwell Falls in Merrimack; eliminating any falls or rapids in the river from Lowell to Litchfield/Merrimack.

Besides the Pawtucket Falls there were three sets of rapids or waterfalls of significance to the early settlers; The Wicasuck Falls in Tyngsboro, the Taylor’s Falls in Hudson, and Cromwell’s Falls in Merrimack. The building of the Pawtucket Dam displaced each of these falls.

The Wicasuck Falls were about 4 miles north of Pawtucket where the river swept around a considerable island of the same name. This offered good fishing for the Indians and early settlers. The island played a significant part during King Philip’s War when Captain Jonathan Tyng “overlooked” a party of praying Indians that lived on this island for some 10 years thus keeping them out of the strife. In consideration of this the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted this island to him in December 1693, It became known as Tyng’s Inland.

A series of rapids known as Taylor’s Falls were located some 8 miles north of Tyng’s Island and one mile south of the junction of the Nashua and the Merrimack Rivers which is located just north of the Taylor’s Falls Bridge; placing them a little over 1/2 mile below the bridge. John Taylor built a garrison on that part of the Joseph Hills grant that was deeded to Gershom Hills and later the Charles W. Spalding farm. This garrison was built behind the house toward the river. The Spalding farm house is now the site of Continental Academie on Derry Road. Little is known of this John Taylor except that the Taylor’s falls were most likely named for him and clearly the Taylor’s Falls Bridge was name for the falls.

Joseph Cromwell was an early fur trader in Old Dunstable on the Merrimack side of the river. The site of his trading post is identified by a marker between the Anheuser-Bush brewery and the Clydesdale Hamblet in Merrimack. Cromwell Falls was visited by Henry David Thorreau and his brother John in September 1839 and this visit chronicled in his book “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”. In this book he stated that the Cromwell Falls were the first falls they met while traveling on the Merrimack; thus indicating that the river level had been raised by that date.

Today the smooth surface of the Merrimack gives no indication of the underlaying rapids and falls were eliminated between Pawtuck and Cromwell Falls. Most of the information in this brief article is from Webster’s History of Hudson. The photo of the Taylor’s Falls bridge in moonlight is from a post card within the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. Researched and written by Ruth Parker.

The Chalifoux/William Winn House

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Winn/Chalifoux House 2019

Many remember this house as the home at Rose Chalifoux and Sons Farm; and later the home of Floreda Chalifoux. John B. and Rose (Delisle) Chalifoux and their family of two sons (Levi and Ernest) and one daughter, Floreda lived in Drewsville, NH an unincorporated community within Walpole, NH when John was killed in a lumber accident. In 1921 Rose and her oldest son Levi (age 21) purchased the farm of Bernard Ready in Hudson, NH. According to the deed of purchase this included land and buildings plus all the cattle, tools, and horses on the farm. The family them moved to Hudson and took on the operation of the farm; at the time Levi was 21, Ernest 17, and their sister Floreda was 18.

Brothers Levi and Ernest worked to improve and expand the dairy farm from that time until the mid 1970’s. In it’s prime the operation consisted of 60 Jersey Cows. Originally milking was a hand process; straining the milk into 20 quart jugs, water cooled on the premises until they were picked up by Descheaux Brothers of Dracut for processing. As times progressed electric milking machines were used and ultimately in the 1960’s a bulk tank was installed for storing and cooling the milk. Levi and Ernest were very acting in Hudson Grange; serving as officers locally, at the county, and state level. They displayed some of their prized Jersey cows at the Hillsborough County Fair. In 1949 they were recognized by “Look” magazine when they won the Golden Cup Award for one of their Jersey cows.

Levi married a Hudson girl, Mildred Shunaman, whose family operated a farm on Musquash Road. Soon after their marriage in 1939 they built a house a short distance from the farm home on Chalifoux Road. They had two daughters, Laura and Margery, both attending Hudson schools and graduating from Alvirne. Laura graduated from UNH with a biology degree. She was employed in the medical research field for many years during which time she authored/coauthored many scientific papers and book chapters. Even from her childhood she was a lover of animals. Laura passed in September 2016 and was laid to rest in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Walpole, NH with her parents and family. Margery married Walter Coomes, JR in Februaray 1969 and they have a family of one son and a daughter. They reside in Belchertown, MA. Mildred Chalifoux is remembered by many as their elementary school teacher in Hudson.

Levi married Ethel Morris of Pelham in October 1947. They likewise moved into their own home adjacent to the old homestead. Ethel, like her sister-in-law, was an elementary school teacher in the Pelham School District.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Dick Hanlon, present owner of this house and a great nephew Ernest and Ethel Chalifoux. Dick fondly recalls driving one of their grey Ford tractors at an early age as he helped his uncles cut, dry, rake , and bail hay from their fields to store for winter feed for their dairy cows. In addition to their own fields, they would harvest the hay from the Luther Pollard and Ben Morgan farms along Lowell Road. Whenever they had too many bails to store in their own facility the used space at the Lebouf barn on River Road.

In the late 1970 the Chalifoux farm was leased to Jack Allen of Walpole, NH for 5 years. During this time he continued the dairy operation and added strawberry fields. Many remember visiting Alllen’s Strawberries to ‘pick your own’ berries. By 1982 Jack returned to the Walpole area and the Jersey stock was sold. The farmhouse was subdivided from the farm land. The farm land was then sold to Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems).

Fromt the earlier history of this house we learn that in 1892 it was on a portion of the Sylvanus Winn Farm. Upon his death it was purchased by Clarence and George Muldoon of Pelham who later sold to Bernard Ready of Lowell who in 1921 sold to the Chalifoux family; hence the present day name for the road. Looking at the 1858 Chace map we see this house was in the family of Timothy Ford who had ownership until 1880 when it transferred to Sylvanus Winn.

In 1942 this house was included in a booklet written by the Hudson Fortnightly Club entitled “NH Homes Built Prior to 1842” From this booklet and research at the Registry of Deeds we know that William Winn and his brother Isaac took possession of this place about 1830. William Winn was born 1797 in Hudson and married Pirsis Gildore of Manchester in 1830. Pirsis passed in 1843 and one year later William sold the place to Timothy Ford and moved to Pelham.

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William Winn House C 1942

A search at the Registry of Deeds tells me the previous owner, and the earliest I have found, was John Pollard. A few years prior to 1830 he had mortgaged the place to Moses Greeley, Jr. This mortgage was assigned to William and Isaac Winn in 1830. As a result of some judgements against Mr. Pollard the property was seized by the sheriff to satisfy those obligations. By April of that year a sheriff’s deed transferred the property to William Winn.

A few other facts of interest. In early deeds what is now Chalifoux Road was called the Ferry Road. According to Kimball Webster and his History of Hudson, NH a ferry at the south end of town was established by Jonathan Hardy who was assessed here in 1748. This ferry was later known as Pollard’s Ferry and was likely operated by Capt. John Pollard son of John Sr.

I hesitate to give a build date for this house. We do know that a house existed on this premise in 1830 and also while John and Elizabeth Pollard resided here. This house has a number of features we find in houses of the mid to late1700’s. There is a center chimney with 3 fireplaces on the first floor; a large one for the kitchen and smaller ones for each of the living and dining rooms. It is a 1 1/2 story house with 2 bedrooms on the second floor. The windows were narrow and tall with 4 panes of glass (2 over 2) in each. Some rooms had ‘gunstock corners’. This feature shows a part of the corner post exposed to the interior of house; resembling the stock of a gun; hence the name. The sheething board were wide and and rough. The rear wall was a double wall stuffed with sawdust for insulation.

If one were to build a list of Hudson houses built prior to 1800, the William Winn house would be included. In fact this is clearly one of the oldest in our town.  Researched and written by Ruth M. Parker.

“Camel’s Hump” – A Favorite Picnic Spot

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Camel’s Hump – A Favorite Picnic Spot

As you were growing up did you have a favorite picnic spot?  Living on a farm near Robinson Pond we, as a family, would often pack a picnic lunch on Sundays, then after church take a short “road trip” for a picnic,relaxation and play before returning home in time for evening chores.  We often visited Butterfield Rock in Windham, the shore line of Robinson Pond near the sawmill (now Sawdust Island) or, when gas was unavailable, hike to the top of the hill above our farmhouse and picnic at our family picnic table.
Early on I was not aware of picnic spots in other parts of town.  Later, as I became active in the Historical Society I listened to Natalie Merrill as she reminisced about one of their favorite spots, “Camels Hump” – a natural formation, near a brook, and close to the Merrimack River.  Local residents in the bridge section of Hudson would visit this spot for an outing.  I did not remember anything about it’s location.
I heard and read about Tarnic Brook, Melendy Brook, and First Brook.  Gradually I learned by reading, listening, and looking at maps that these were just different names for the same brook!   It drained from Tarnic Pond into Melendy Pond (with help from a dam) and from there it meandered past Lowell Road and on to the Merrimack River just south of the right of way for the steam railroad tracks.  The information on “Camels Hump” came together for me a few years back as I was browsing through an old scrapbook which had been donated to the Historical Society.   The following details on “Camels Hump” are taken from an undated and unidentified newspaper article.
One of the prettiest spots in this vicinity for a day’s or a few hours’ outing is the Camel’s Hump.  Located just southeast of the railroad bridge in Hudson.  The brook that winds through the dell is as crooked as the imagination would desire, with its clear sparkling water flowing over rocks and smoothly flowing over shallow sands. In this area the grass grows just high enough for a clean grassy carpet.  The smell of the pine needles gives one a generous appetite.  The place known as “Camels Hump” has the most beautiful mingling of dell, meadow, and hills with cooling shade. As nice as this place is, few know of its of location and rare beauty.
First Brook flows into the Merrimack River a short distance south of the right of way(row) for the former railroad, now the southern section of Merrill Park.  To get to this park turn onto Maple Avenue from Central Street;  Merrill Park is located at the end of the street toward the river.  The entrance to the park is the old right of way for the railroad.  From a June 1981 map of the proposed Merrill Park we see that the park includes this town owned  row  plus two land parcels once owned by the Merrill/Nutting Family; a 6 +/- acre parcel north of the row and a 2 3/4 +/- acre parcel to the south which includes most of  First Brook as it flows into the river.
In today’s busy and fast paced times picnics have morphed into brown bag lunches, take out meals, or back yard barbecues. When was the last time a picnic became became a destination event as opposed to a matter of convenience?   This Post Card of Camel’s Hump  is part of the Historical Society collection.  It was published  by Daniels and Gilbert of the Hudson Bridge area.

The Senter Homestead on Old Derry Road

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Senter Farmhouse Old Derry Road

Best known as the home of Deacon Thomas Senter this  farm was home to five generations of the Senter Family, beginning with Samuel the father of Thomas.  The farm were settled in the South West part of Londonderry near “Potash” Corner.  This was the part of Londonderry annexed to Nottingham West in 1778.  We know the location today as the intersection of Old Derry Road with Robinson Road and a bit north of the Senter Cemetery.
Deacon Thomas was born May 1753 in Londonderry, NH the son of Susan Taylor and Samuel Senter.  Thomas married Esther Greeley, daughter of Ezekiel Greeley, circa 1775.  Their family consisted of 7 daughters (Kate, Bridget, Susan, Charlotte, Esther, Rebecca, and Nancy) and 2 sons (Thomas, Jr and Charles).  His wife, Esther passed at the age of 51 in 1800.  Thomas married a second time to Mercy Jackson and a third time to Eunice White.  There is no record of children born to these later marriages.  Thomas was a farmer and he enlisted in the spring of 1775 for 8 months and served at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
On May 1, 1805 the  Baptist Church of Christ of Nottingham West (now the First Baptist Church of Hudson) was organized in this home by a  council called for that purpose.  The new  church consisted of 65 members who had been “sett Off” from the Baptist Church in Londonderry.   That very same  council held an ordination for  The Reverend Thomas Paul.  For several years following the new church did not have a settled pastor.  The pulpit was supplied by various pastors, one of whom was the Reverend Thomas Paul.  The early church had two deacons.  Thomas Senter was chosen as one of the deacons, the other was Moses Greeley.  The anniversary of the organization of the Baptist Church (now at 236 Central Street) is recognized annually on or near May 1 as a Roll Call.  Members meet, enjoy a meal, fellowship, and call the roll.  When a member’s name is called they respond with a verse of scripture.
 This homestead remained with the Senter family until May 1889 when it was sold to Jeremiah Heath and  his son George M. Heath.  The Heath family owned the place until about 1921 when it was sold by Cora Heath, wife of George.  Either just before or soon after being sold by the Heath family the ancient home was destroyed by fire.  It is not clear if this was an intentional burn or not.  From the June 30, 1921 article in the Nashua Telegraph we get a description of the house.  The centerpiece of the house were two large brick chimneys probably made from Litchfield bricks.  These massive structures remained standing after the fire; showing the huge arches in the  cellar which supported 8 fireplaces.  One for each of the rooms in the house.  Cooking was done in an open fireplace.  The house had a front and a back door which led into a hallway from which one you access any of the four rooms downstairs.  The roof timbers were unusually strong and could have supported the extra weight of a slate roof.  To my knowledge, all evidence of this house has been replaced by more recent developments.
While researching Moses Greeley for last week’s article and Thomas Senter for this week, I began to understand the significant role each of these gentlemen had  to our town’s history; and the similarities of their lives.  Let me share:  They were farmers and neighbors, settling on the Derry Road.  They had adjacent farms and their houses were within 1/2 mile of each other.   They were both charter members of the First Baptist Church and both were elected as one of the two deacons for the church; a position held for life or until one resigned.  They were not related but their lives and the lives of their families were interwoven.  You see, Moses and Thomas married sisters.  Moses’ first wife was Hannah Greeley.  Thomas’ first wife was Esther Greeley.  These ladies were the daughters of Ezekiel Greeley.  The relationship between these two families continued beyond Moses and Thomas.
This photo of the Senter Homestead is courtesy of John Senter of Nashua; a direct descendant of Deacon Thomas Senter.

Greeley/Lambert/Nadeau Farm

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98 Old Derry Road Early View

 

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.

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The Farmhouse 2017

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 .

 

H. E. Smith and Sons Farm Stand C1980

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H.E. Smith and Sons Farm Stand C1980

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.  This year the  stand will remain 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, Dylan, 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 House at 26 Lawrence Road

 

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26 Lawrence Road C1893

This house at 26 Lawrence Road is remembered by many, including myself, as the home of Hazel and Walter McInnis and their daughter Winnie.  The McInnis family purchased this farm in August 1944 from the family of Edward Senneville.  For many years Walter McInnis was a dairy farmer; using the brook located across from his barn on  Lawrence Road to water his cows when the farm well was low.  Until the new Route 111 was constructed in the middle 1960’s, this was the state road and traffic along the road was often halted while approximately 12 cows crossed the road to get water from the brook!  Mr. McInnis passed  in 1969.  Mrs. McInnis and Winnie lived here until the farm was sold in August 1982 to The Marcum Family.

In 1858 this was the home of Simeon Robinson, Jr. and by 1892 it was the home of  his son Frank.   Simeon, Jr. was born in March 1821 and by the age of 23 he was a single father and a widower.  His first wife, Elizabeth, passed away in 1844 leaving him with their 4 year old son, Lucius.   In 1848, Simeon, Jr married Charlotte Glidden. Their oldest son, Frank, was born in 1850.   Upon the death of Simeon Jr.  in 1897, the farm passed to his son Frank. It was sold in Oct  1924 to Warren Gilcrest  by Frank’s  widow, Alecia, and two daughters , Charlotte and Annette.  Gilcrest  owned  the place until 1942 when it was sold to the Senneville family.

Attached are two photos of this house.  The earlier photo was taken  about 1893 . Based upon the ages of Simeon, Jr and members of the Frank Robinson family at that time period, the people in this photo are likely Frank’s wife  Alecia,  his father Simeon, Jr, Frank himself, and Frank’s young daughters Charlotte and Annette.  The recent photo  shows the house as it looks today  and is the photo of records with the Town of Hudson.

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26 Lawrence Road C 2012

 

The Robinson Family moved into this part of Hudson (then Londonderry) in 1763 when Peter Robinson, Simeon Jr’s grandfather,  purchased a farm of about 150 acres from Elisha and Mary Cummings of Londonderry.  Peter moved here by 1768 with two adult sons, Simeon and Douglas, plus his second wife and their young family.  Douglas removed to what is now Hancock, NH.  Simeon remained in this area and married first Susannah Tarbox.  The descendants of Simeon and Susannah settled on Peter’s farm.  This farm, now at 11 Old Robinson Road, remains in the family line from  Simeon  and Susannah.   After the death of Susannah in 1818, Simeon married a second time to a widow, Susan (Wyman) Tarbox.   They had one son, Simeon, Jr. who ultimately settled at what is now 26 Lawrence Road.

 

Robinson/Parker Homestead 1907

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Robinson/Parker Homestead 1907

 

In 1763 Peter Robinson of Boxford, MA negotiated to purchase a 150 acre farm, including barn and dwelling, FROM Elisha and Mary Cummings of Londonderry, NH.  Sometime between 1764 and 1767 Peter and his large family moved onto this farm.  Members of the Robinson/Parker family have remained here for nine generations.  This farm was located  near Little Massabesic Pond, a name given by the native Americans.  This part of Londonderry was annexed to Nottingham West (now Hudson) in 1788 and over time the name of the water has been changed to Robinson Pond.
 
 
Alphonso Robinson was the sixth generation of his family to live on the farm; he was the great-grandfather of the current generation.  All his life was passed at the family homestead; born in 1837 he passed in 1918 at the age of 81.  Alphonso and Louisa Ann Haselton, also of Hudson, were married in 1862.  Her wedding dress of brown silk was saved and later made over for her daughter Hattie Louisa when she married Rev. Clarence C. Parker.  During the Civil War, Alphonso as a farmer was responsible for the livelihood of his grandfather, David; his parents Marinda Caldwell and John Anderson; his wife Louisa Ann, and their young son; John Abner.  As was accepted practice at the time, he paid a substitute to take his place in the Civil War.  During this time the small farmhouse was enlarged and made into a two family dwelling to accommodate his large and multi-generational family.  The main part of the present house was built and the existing house was split and a piece attached to each end as an ell.  
 
In  their later years Alphonso and Louisa provided a home for three of their grandchildren after the early passing of their mother, Hattie Louisa (Robinson) Parker.  Thus it is that their grandson, Charles C. Parker (aka ‘Charlie’) came to live on this farm.  At the time of his death, Alphonso was cited as one of Hudson’s most respected citizens and a man of high ideals and honest in all his dealings.
 
Hattie Louisa Robinson and her brother John Abner were of the seventh generation.  John Abner remained on the farm and married Julia Ann Webster in 1890.  They lived their entire married lives on the farm of his ancestors.  John worked with his father Alphonso.  He also served the Town of Hudson as a Selectman for  24 years and as a Representative to the General Court.  By 1911 Charles, Helen, and Alice Parker had come to live with their Robinson grandparents.  Soon thereafter Charles worked on the farm along with his grandfather and his uncle John.  All three grandchildren attended the Number 7 school at Frog Corner, located at the corner of Robinson and Griffin Roads.  Helen later attended Nashua High.  While there she became good friends with Ruth E.Blood of Nashua; said friendship led to the introduction of Ruth E. and Charles.  Ruth E. Blood and Charles Parker were married in 1933.  They too spent their entire married life on the farm of Charles’ ancestors.  
 
In the 1950’s as a way of helping to balance the family budget, Ruth and Charles joined forces with Farm Vacations and Holidays of New York.  This provided city families an opportunity to spend their vacation “down on the farm”.  This experience resulted in national publicity when an article about Butternut Hill Farm of Hudson appeared in the August 3, 1957 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.   Charles continued to work the farm until the mid-1960’s.  By that time the pressures and cost of modern dairy equipment made it impossible to continue.  His dairy cows were sold to The Emery Nadeau Farm of Hudson. Since that time it became necessary to divest part of the farm.  The present Town Recreation Area at Robinson Pond and the Parker Wildlife Sanctuary were once a part of this farm.  Some acres have been retained, along with this homestead for future generations.  
 
In 1989, as a result of research on the part of Ruth E. Parker, Butternut Hill Farm was named as a Bicentenial Farm.  The significance being that the farm has been actively farmed by members of the same family since 1789 or earlier.  This is one of two such farms in Hudson so named.  The second was that of Paul Hills on Barretts Hill Road.  
 
This photo shows the family homestead in 1907.  The home exterior remains the same today except for the extension of the front porch and the addition of a garage.  This photo is a part of my private collection and I am pleased to share some of my family history with you today.  Charles “Charlie” and Ruth E. Parker were my parents.

Robinson Pond Used For Log Storage 1938

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Robinson Pond – Log Storage 1938

The 1938 hurricane struck without warning on Spetember 21, 1938.  The storm roarded up the coast from Cape Hatteras with winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts in excess of 175.  As the storm progressed communications were disrupted so that communities in its track were not alerted to it’s arrival.  At 4:30 pm there were reports of a slight wind; by 5:00 the winds and gusts had increased so vigorously that workers on their way home from work feared for their safety.  Soon trees were crashing down across  the roadways.  Besides the major tree damage, chimneys were toppled, shingles blown from houses, buildings were crushed, and windows were broken.  Whatever was in the path of the wind was blown around with a fury.  By daylight on the next morning the damage was inspected.  Carpenters, bricklayers, masons, and road workers were in demand to repair the damage.  Hudson residents were left without telephones and electricity  for days.
Huge trees were uprooted, some were snapped off like match sticks.  Much of the fine old standing pine timber in Hudson was blown down. A Town Timber Committee was formed by local folks in an effort to salvage the uprooted trees.  Named to this committee were Robert Hardy, Albert Kashulines, and Charles Parker.  The committee met with representatives of the state and federal governments to work out a plan for storing the logs in water to prevent insect damage to the wood.  Robinson Pond was inspected and approved for this purpose.   Owners of the land, John Robinson and Charles Parker, were paid one dollar for its use.
Salvaged logs were trucked to this site on Robinson Road from Pelham, Litchfield,  parts of Nashua, and Hudson. Records were kept listing the owners of the logs, the grade of the logs, and a count.  Logs were measured and stamped.  In the winter the logs were put on scoots and drawn out onto the ice by tractors and rolled off onto the ice; to remain until the ice melted.  The logs remained in the water for two summers. It was estimated that 5 million board feet of lumber were stored here in Robinson Pond.
In the winter of 1939, Bean and Simmonds of Jaffrey, NH owners and operators of a box shop purchased the logs.  Removal of the logs began in 1940.  Two portable steam mills were set up on the “point” at Robinson Pond.  This “point” is now part of the Town Recreation Area and often referred to as Sawdust Island.  The logs were sawed three inches thick and trucked to a nearby field, stacked for drying, and later trucked to Jaffrey.  Bean and Simmonds re sawed them and used them to make ammunition boxes for use in world War II.  Not all logs were removed from the pond.  Occasionally, even to this day, logs drift to shore or pop-op at the pond.
This photo, from the Historical Society Collection, shows logs stacked on the shore of what is now the swimming area for the Town Recreation Area.  The pond is frozen and logs are waiting to be skooted onto the ice.  Across the pond is the open field of what is now 72 Robinson Road.
If you would like to hear more about The Great Hurricane of 1938 please join with The Historical Society on September 22, 2016 at 7:00pm at the Hills House on Derry Road.  Our guest speaker will be Shira Gladstone site manager for Historic New England.

Hudson Speedway C 1947

Hudson Speedway C 1947

Hudson Speedway C 1947

For 70 years, from 1946 to the present, race enthusiasts  of New England have participated in and watched events at the Hudson Speedway.  Located in northern Hudson at what is now the corner of Robinson and Old Derry Roads is this 1/4 mile short oval asphalt  track banked at 12 degrees.  It was initially a dirt track and by 1953 it was paved.
Often times the racing schedule called for 11 individual races during  a Sunday afternoon or evening.  At one time as many as 4,000 race fans were reportedly on hand for these events.  Some Hudson amateur, and not so amateur, drivers participated in events using stock cars they themselves modified and painted for the occasion.  Local race fans Gary and Lorna Granger and their friends Bertha and Richard Ashford drove their cars (#68 and #69) at this raceway and the sister track in Epping, NH.  Stock car races were of several types:  sportsman, modified, demolition derby, powder puff, and spectator races.  This current 2016 season the racing schedule runs from May to October.
The neighborhood and roadways around the Hudson Speedway have changed significantly these past 70 years. Before the early 1950’s the part of Derry Road (Route 102) from Old Derry Road just beyond the Hills House to the Londonderry Flea Market had not been built.  The road we know of as Old Derry Road was The Derry Road.  Robinson Road ended at what is now Old Derry Road at Potash Corner near the Senter Cemetery.  There was an unnamed cross road from this corner to the Litchfield line.  The intersection of Robinson Road, West Road, and Derry Road at The Irving Station and Dunkin Donuts did not exist.
The neighborhood was rural; Nadeau Dairy Farm, Jasper’s Poultry Farm to the south.  On the north towards Londonderry there were there were 2 or 3 houses between the cemetery and the Londonderry line.  The property on Old Derry Road between the speedway and Putman Road, where some 6 houses now exist, was undeveloped and one family lived there.   The  property was later  owned by the town of Hudson for unpaid taxes and in 1955 sold at public auction and by 1971 again sold to a local developer.  By the mid 1970’s there were some 6 families living adjacent to the speedway on Old Derry Road.  Local property owners were issues seasonal passes to the speedway events.
With the increase in residency and continuation of the racetrack activities conflicts  occurred and the local residents organized to seek regulations of the speedway.  The speedway had been in existence for about 25 years before this  occurred.  The issues centered around noise, crowd and traffic control before and after races, litter along highway, and even trespassing on private property.  Neighborhood fields were used for parking with property owners charging for parking; the hours of races were controlled so there were no evening races when school was in session the next day.  To this day, Sunday races continue.  To some of the residents in the area it is part of our neighborhood activities; to others, I am sure, the noise and activities is more that just an inconvenience.
The photo shown here is from an early postcard with the photo by A. Dallaire of Manchester, NH. It is an aerial view looking west to each over the track.  Old Derry Road (Derry Road) is behind the bleachers with a field of the Nadeau Farm across the way being used as a parking lot.  The post card was a recent donation to the Historical Society’s collection.