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The year was 1909. Edwin Atkins Grozier, owner and publisher of The Boston Post, launched his most famous and longest lasting advertising campaign to increase readership of his paper: The Boston Post Cane. A letter was sent to the chairman of the of selectmen in many New England towns. With this letter Mr. Grozier asked them to become trustees of a fine ebony cane with a top of 24-caret sheet gold. He stipulated the cane was to be given to the oldest citizen of the town. Upon the death of that citizen the cane was to be returned to the town and quickly transmitted to the next oldest citizen. The canes were separately expressed to each town.
Some time prior to August 1909 Mr. Grozier had arranged for the manufacture of some 700 canes by J. F. Fradley & Co. of New York, widely recognized for their fine canes. The cane itself was crafted from ebony grown in the Congo of Africa then brought here, cut into the desired length, and seasoned for 6 months. Good specimens were then turned on a lathe to the desired size and allowed to season again. They were then given a coat of shellac, rubbed with a pumice, and coated with French Varnish. Each town received an identical cane except for the name of the town embossed on the head of the cane. The cane for Hudson read: “The Boston Post to the Oldest Citizen of Hudson ” in the center. Around the top edge was “New Hampshire” and on the bottom “To be Transmitted’ This cane was not just an ornament, it was designed for daily use by the holder.
Within a few weeks Mr. Grozier made it clear who was eligible for the cane. The intention from the beginning was for the cane to be presented to the oldest citizen, meaning the oldest registered voter in the town. In 1909 women could not vote so the cane was presented to the oldest male voter in town. Even after women could register to vote most towns continued the tradition of presenting to the oldest male voter. As far as Hudson is concerned the award of the cane followed the original intent until 1999 when the Historical Society assumed the responsibility of presenting the cane.
Mr. Grozier remained as owner of the newspaper until he passed suddenly in 1924 at which time his son Richard, also a newspaper man, took on the responsibility until 1946 when he also passed suddenly. The paper was then sold, circulation declined, and publication ended in 1956. What started as a campaign to increase circulation of the newspaper has turned into a century long tradition, outlasting the newspaper itself!
Hudson’s Selectmen in 1909 were James P. Howe, P. J. Connell, and George F. Blood. Soon after receiving the cane the selectmen presented it to Benjamin A. Merrill, Hudson’s first holder. Mr. Merrill passed in late October 1909; the cane was then presented to Hiram Cummings who held the cane until he passed January 7, 1910.
Some towns kept a record of the recipients of their cane. I have not found nor have I heard of any such early records being kept for Hudson. So, in an attempt to create such a list, I did some research. The remainder of this article shares my results.
Following Hiram Cummings (d:1910) research shown the honor was passed to Daniel Greeley (d:May 1916), Kimball Webster (d:June 1916), and Robert A. Andrews (d:1920). The next recipient I found was Clifton Buttrick who passed in May 1935 at the age of 89. Logic tells we there is an unknown recipient between Robert A. Andrews and Clifton Buttrick. Following Mr. Buttrick we have Willis P. Cummings (d:1939), Edwin Gowing (d:1940), David Monroe (d:1941), Charles L. Spaulding (d:1942), Charles Leslie (d:1948), Arthur S. Andrews (d:1949), Aldon Cummings (d:July 1950), Irven Smith (d:Aug 1950) and Charles Edward Cummings (d:1953). After the death of the younger Cummings brother in 1953 I found no further record of a presentation of the cane by the board of selectmen.
According to accession records of the Historical Society our Boston Post Cane was donated to the Historical Society by the Town of Hudson in 1971. It has been on display at the Hills House since that time; being used only occasionally for special presentations.
In 1999 the Society re-activated the tradition of the Boston Post Cane with updated eligibility rules. Both ladies and gentlemen are candidates with the requirement they be a resident of Hudson for the previous 20 years. The recipient is honored with a proclamation from the selectmen, a pin/tie clasp replica of the cane and his/her name engraved on a plaque. This presentation is made at the convenience of the recipient’s family.
Since 1999 we have 10 recipients. James Glispen was honored in 1999 at the age of 100. Lillian Leaor was Hudson’s first lady to receive the honor in 2005. Following Mrs. Leaor the recipients are: Ella Connell, Thelma Lemire, Ida Hill, Paul Wheeler, Mildred Emanuelson, Laura B. Landry, Clara Charest, and at present Doris Widebeck.
Before leaving the history of honoring our oldest residents I share a couple of events which occurred during the 1970’s. The first event was Founders Day in 1973; a week long celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Dunstable. For this event Hudson sponsored a parade which proceeded from School Street down Lowell Road, to Jacques Field. Being the oldest native of Hudson Ralph Steele (d:1999) was selected as the Grand Marshall.
The second event was the Bi-centennial in 1976; again celebrated with a parade from School Street to the site of Memorial School. The grand marshal for this event was 96 year old William D. Tandy. Mr. Tandy(d:1978) had previously been recognized by the Hudson Lion’s Club as early as 1974 as the oldest man in Hudson.
If any readers have additional information or insights into missing Boston Post Cane recipients please contact me via email at HudsonHistorical@live.com. The photo of the cane was taken by Sue Misek and is part of our collection at the Hills House. Written by Ruth Parker this article appeared in the August 16, 2020 edition of the Nashua Telegraph.
While giving tours and talking town history we at the Hudson Historical Society frequently hear the question “When was our town established? The bronze tablet pictured here identifies the five birthdays, or founding dates, for the Town of Hudson.
Dunstable, Mass was founded in 1673. Most of the land contained within the present boundaries of Hudson was included within Dunstable, the exception being about 4,600 acres in the northeast part of Hudson which was then a part of Londonderry. The geography of Dunstable included land on both sides of the Merrimack River including all or parts of some 14 towns in present day Mass and NH. In the early days of Dunstable land had been granted on the east side of the river but no real settlements occurred here until about 1710. We remained a part of Dunstable, Mass until 1733.
As the number of settlers on the east side of the river increased, we petitioned Mass to be set off as a separate town. This petition was answered on January 4, 1733 when the charter for Nottingham, Mass was granted this town included all Dunstable lands on the east side of the river. The General Court ordered that a Town Meeting be held within 3 months and a minister be settled within 3 years. After survey and much debate, the center of the town of Nottingham, Mass was agreed upon and a meeting house built on what is now Musquash Road. The town of Nottingham, Mass remained as such for only 9 years, until 1741.
The ancient boundary between the provinces of NH and Mass was based upon the Merrimack River and the misconception that the river flowed from west to east; with no idea of the abrupt bend northward the river made near Chelmsford. This resulted in some dual grants by the rival provinces of NH and Mass and a boundary dispute which was not settled until 1741. At that time the line was established to run 3 miles north of the Merrimack River from the ocean until reaching a specific point north of Pawtuckett Falls; after that the line ran due west to the Connecticut River. All land south of this line was in Mass. Land to the north was in Nottingham,NH; called by many historians as the District of Nottingham as the towns had not yet been incorporated under the laws of The State of NH.
During the time after 1741 a number of smaller New Hampshire towns were spun off from Nottingham and were incorporated within NH. One of these, Nottingham West was incorporated in 1746 and a charter issued July 5, 1746. Nottingham West contained most of the lands of the present town of Hudson, except for those acres in Londonderry and minor adjustments to the boundaries with Windham and Pelham.
We remained as Nottingham West until 1830. At the annual town meeting of 1830 the voters of Nottingham West adopted an article to petition the General Court of NH to alter the name to Auburn or to designate some other name. The name was changed to Hudson July 1, 1830.
Our town has 5 founding dates or birthdays. In 1672 we were established as Dunstable, MA; 1733 as Nottingham, MASS; 1741 as the District of Nottingham, NH; 1740 as Nottingham West, NH; and in 1830 as Hudson, NH. This confuses our celebrations! In 1933 we celebrated the 200th birthday of incorporation of Nottingham, Mass; in 1972, some 39 years later, we celebrated the 300 birthday of the founding of Dunstable! To my knowledge there was never a centennial or bi-centennial celebration for Nottingham West and no centennial celebration for changing name to Hudson in 1830. So, when will our next celebration be? perhaps in the year 2030, some ten years from now, when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of changing our name to Hudson?
This bronze tablet is located within the School Administration Building on Library Street, aka Kimball Webster School, and was donated to the Town by the students of Webster School as part of our 1933 bi-centennial celebration. Photo taken for publication of Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society collection. Researched and written by Ruth Parker on behalf of the Hudson Historical Society. Nashua Telegraph March 22, 2020.
This building which began as a school house in Peterborough, NH was moved to Hudson in 1929. It was moved a second time in 1941 where it found a permanent use by our town Recreation Department until it was replaced in 1985.
In 1929 Hudson was in the midst of the depression and money was tight. Extensive repairs had been completed to the Webster school building as the result of the recent fire. These repairs placed the facility in a better condition than before the fire. Hudson’s total school enrollment was 457 students: 356 at Webster, 58 at Hudson Center, 23 at No. 1 District school at Musquash, and 20 at No 9 District on Derry Road (now Old Derry Road). Yes!! Two of our local district schools were still operating at that time. Also, there were almost 100 Hudson students who were attending private elementary schools. Despite the depression it was apparent to the school board that an additional classroom was needed at Webster. They were fortunate to locate an available portable school house from the district of Peterborough. This building was secured, moved to Hudson, and placed behind the Webster school house in time for the 1929 school year. This annex to Webster immediately acquired the nickname of the “portable”.
The “portable” served Hudson quite well. It provided a make-shift class room which could be used for any grade(s) until another school building and/or school room became available. One year the “portable” was used for grade 1 and grade 3. Another year, for example, for grade 2 and grade 3. And so it continued. The depression continued into the 1930’s. The school board continuously looked for ways to decrease the cost of the elementary grades. At the same time the number of students attending Nashua Junior and Senior High was increasing. In 1933 the No.1 school house was closed due to cost and enrollment. This saved the district over $800 but added to the congestion at Webster. This situation continued until Hudson obtained a federal grant and made plans for a Junior High school building. Land was purchased and The Hudson Junior High school was built on School Street at the corner of what is now First Street near Oakwood Street. In 1939 the junior high was completed and Hudson students in grades 7,8,9 were schooled there; thus reducing the tuition spent to Nashua. This also relieved the pressure at Webster and made possible the closing of the “portable”. At that time grades 1-6 attended either Webster or Hudson Center’ graded 7-9 attended Hudson Junior High, and grades 10-12 were tuition students at Nashua.
The “portable” was used as a Webster annex until the end of the 1938 school year; almost 10 years. At the School District meeting in March 1939 the “portable” building was made available to the youth of Hudson. A short time after the building was moved from the rear of Webster onto School District land at the corner of First Street and Oakwood Avenue. A Recreation Committee of 5 persons was formed and organized activities for the youth of Hudson during the weeks of school summer vacation began to take root.
By 1953 there were 300 children and teenagers participating in the 9 week schedule of supervised summer activities ranging from playground activities, little league, and crafts. One special event such as doll show, pet show, bicycle parade, father and son baseball, or a trip to Benson’s was scheduled for each week. These events were held at the Youth Center on Oakwood Street and area fields: the ball field behind the Junior High, tennis courts located at the Robinson playground on School Street, and the ball field at the corner of School and Library Streets. This last field is now the site of the Leonard Smith Fire Station. At the School District meeting March 1954 the so called “portable” lot at the intersection of First and Oakwood Streets was deeded by the School District deeded to the town of Hudson for use by the town Recreation Committee.
Our first photo shows the Youth Center aka the old “potable” facing Oakwook Street C 1975. This building remained in use through the summer program of 1984 at which time it was replaced as a project of the Lions Club. The new building was 2,160 square feet and contained a large meeting room, heating facilities, an office, and space for a kitchen. The Lions Club donated the cost of this building with the assistance of many tradesmen, suppliers, and individuals in town who worked on the project at or below cost. The building committee consisted of Alvin Rodgers, Gus Piantidosi, Richard Millard, and Phillip Rodgers as chairman. The keys to the new youth center were turned over to Recreation Commission Chairman Paul Hamilton and Selectman John Bednar who thanked the Lions for their contribution to the community. While making this presentation Lions Club President Roger Latulippe stated that the new recreation building was donated to the town and its citizens as a token of gratitude for the many years of support shown to the club. Credit was specifically given to Paul Dawkins who wired the building at no cost and to the Snowmen snowmobile club who hung sheetrock at no cost.
Our second photo shows the Rec Center at it appears in 2019. Under the direction of Dave Yates, Recreation Director our recreation department now includes activities at this location plus the facilities at Robinson Pond, the playground and ball field at Hudson Center, activities at the Community Center (previously Lions Hall), senior services at the North Barn, and numerous ball fields and playground distributed through town. The 1975 photo is from the collection at the historical society. The current photo was taken by the author.
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”.
In 1857 Hudson contracted with William Anderson of Windham to erect this Town House on the site of the Old North Meeting House in Hudson Center. The North Meeting House was deeded to the town by the Baptist Society after The Baptist Church was completed in 1841. Town meetings were held here until the mid 1930’s when there was a desire among the town people to hold meetings at the bridge area. Wattannick Grange held their meetings here from its organization. In 1963 the town authorized the sale of the building to Wattannick Grange. To the right of the Town House is Harvey Lewis’ Coal Grain and Grocery; on the left and rear is the B&M Railroad Depot. Today, now that Hudson and Wattannick Granges have merged, this building is known as Wattannick Hall the home of Hudson Grange No 11. Photo from the Historical Society collection.