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. This story was printed in the Nashua Telegraph April 5, 2020.
Baker Street was laid out July 23, 1889 on land owned or previously owned by Kimball Webster. This street went from Main Street (now Ferry Street) near Derry Road and proceeded northward to land set aside for the Methodist Church parsonage and then eastward to Derry Road (now a part of Highland Street). By 1892 when the Hurd Atlas of New Hampshire towns was published there were only four houses on Baker Street; corresponding to 4, 6, 8, and 10 Baker Street of today. Each of these four homes were built between 1889 and 1892 by/for John H. Baker, Ezra A. Martin, Gerry Walker, and Abi A. Sanders restively. . A short time after 1892 a house was built on what is now 12 Baker Street and land at 13 Baker Street (now the corner with Highland Avenue) had been designated as the site of Methodist Church parsonage, replacing their parsonage which was destroyed by fire on Central Street a few years earlier.
Lovisa Underwood (Webster) and John Henry Baker moved from the Pembroke, NH area between 1856 and 1858 with their son John Julian. A daughter Mittie and a son William Wallace were later born in Hudson. John Henry was a stone cutter and a farmer. In October 1888 he purchased a 22,800 square foot lot from his brother-in-law, Kimball Webster. This lot was located near Derry Road on a proposed street to be named Baker Street. His Victorian style home was the first to be built on that street and it became the family home for 3 generations of Bakers. John Henry lived here for the duration of his life; passing in January 1916. His wife, Lovisa pre-deceased him in March 1900. They were laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery. This house became home to siblings Mittie and John Julian. Their other sibling, William Wallace, also resided here until his marriage to Sarah Lee Oldell in December 1899 about which time he secured the lot at 6 Baker Street.
After receiving their education John Jullian and William Wallace each spent a few years working for their uncle, Nathan Webster, in his grocery and grain business on Central Street. In 1890 these brothers became business partners as they took over the operation and ownership of the store.
John Julian passed in February 1942 at the age of 89 and Mittie passed in July 1949 at the age of 89. After settling the estate of Mittie Baker title for the home at 4 Baker Street went to her nephew, John Earl. John Earl lived there until August 1965 when the home was sold outside the Baker family to Fred and Hazel Felber. who owned it for 28 years until it was sold from her estate in 1993. In the intervening 26 years to the present time this property had had 3 owners. At the present time it is a 3 family complex.
The first home at 6 Baker Street was built by Ezra A. Martin about 1889 and unfortunately destroyed by fire by in 1890. There is no evidence he rebuilt as the lot was taken over by William Wallace Baker and he built his own residence there in 1899. From this home William Wallace and Sarah (Oldall) Baker raised their family of 3 sons; John Earl (B:1901), Sidney (B:1902), and Walace Grant (B:1907). William Wallace and Sarah continued to reside here. He passed in December 1932 and by October 1941 the house was purchased by James and Ethel Hopwood. James was employed in Wilton, NH and Ethel was teacher in the Hudson School System; teaching primarily at Webster School. By the mid 1950’s they had retired. The Baker Street house was then sold to George A. Fuller and Roland Levesque in November 1961. It was converted to a multi-family residence and has since been owned by members of the Cassavaugh Family and now by Alexander Croker.
Our first photo is from an early 1900 post card of the John Henry residence. The second shows the William Wallace home decorated for the 1933 town bi-centennial. Researched and written by Ruth Parker and published May 3, 2020 in Nashua Telegraph.
As we continue to revisit rural Hudson we stop at Smith Farm Stand on Kimball Hill Road.
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. Often the stand will remains 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, Diyan, 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.
This is the first of two articles recalling the family of John Henry Baker and the ‘laying out’ and early development of Baker Street. This week we look at the descendants of John Henry and some of the contributions they made to our town.
John Henry was the first Baker of this line to move to Hudson. He was born in Manchester, NH November 1822 to Jesse and Sally (Howard) Baker. Jesse was a stone mason and a farmer and he resided in a number of places including Pelham, Windham, Manchester, and lastly Hudson.
By December 1846 John Henry married Lovisa Underwood Webster in Hudson. She was born in Pelham January 1824 a daughter of John and Hannah (Cummings) Webster and a sister to Nathan, Moses, and Kimball Webster. At the time of their marriage he was living in the Manchester area and after their marriage they remained until some time between 1856 and 1859. Like his father John Henry was a stone cutter. John and Livisa had two sons and two daughters. Their first child, Ida Ella, was born in Pembroke September 1853 and passed before her second birthday. Their second child, John Julian, was born in Pembroke August 1856. The remainder of their family was born in Hudson; a daughter Mittie born December 1859 and a son William Wallace born September 1865. After moving to Hudson John Henry continued his occupation as a stone cutter. In 1863 he registered for the Civil War draft as a stone cutter. By 1870 he was listed as a farmer. He attended the Methodist Episcopal Church here in Hudson and was on the committee to build the brick church in 1880 after fire had destroyed the church and parsonage on Central Street near Melendy Road. John Henry lived out the remainder of his 93 years as a farmer in Hudson. He passed in January 1916 and was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery.
After moving to Hudson with his parents as a young child John Julian received his early education in the local district school, perhaps attending school at #8 District on Derry Road. His higher education was at the Nashua Literary Institution and Pembroke Academy. In 1876, at the age of 20, he began working for his uncle, Nathan Webster, as a clerk in his grocery and grain business. This employment lasted until 1885 when he was appointed to the U.S. railway mail service running between Boston and Keene, NH. Four year later he returned to Hudson.
William Wallace received his early education in the local district school, perhaps attending the same #8 as his older brother John. William’s higher education was from the McGraw Institute in Reeds Ferry. In 1885, at the age of 20, he likewise entered the employ of his Uncle Nathan as a clerk and was soon appointed Assistant Post Master, a position he held until 1890.
In October 1890 brothers John Julian and William Wallace Baker took over and expanded the building and grocery business from their uncle. The Baker Brothers’ building was the location of the early post office at Hudson bridge when the Democrats were in office. When the Republicans were in office the Post Office would re-locate across the square in Daniels and Gilbert. The Bakers’ Building had a long history dating back to the 1860’s. Owners were James Carnes, then Nathan P. Webster, and then John J. and William W. Baker and later Sidney. After operating for two generations it was sold to the Rodgers Family of Hudson prior to being demolished as part of the bridge revitalization.
John Julian was elected town clerk and treasurer in 1892 and continued for 3 years. He was elected again in 1903 and continued as clerk and treasurer, with the exception of 1 year, until 1940. His total years of service as clerk and treasurer were over 40 years! In March 1940 he was honored by his town with a formal resolution for his service. John Julian passed February 1942 and was laid to rest with his family in Sunnyside Cemetery,
William Wallace and Sarah Lee (Oldall) Baker were married in Hudson December 1899. Their family consisted of three sons; John Earl (born February 1903), Sidney F. (born May 1905), and Wallace Grant (born February 1907). William Wallace passed December 1932 at the age of 67.
In the mid 1920’s John Earl took a trip to California and visited Hollywood. After returning home he started a theatrical production group called Hudson Players. He and Vera Tieiney married in November 1927. After his uncle, John Julian, retired as town clerk and treasurer, John Earl was elected. He converted an old roadside farm stand used by Vertner Fogg for the sale of veggies into an office from which he conducted his insurance business as well as his business as Town Clerk. He served as town clerk and tax collector until he passed in 1966, a total of 25 years!
Sidney F. was educated in Hudson and Nashua, graduating from Nashua High. He married Frances M. Slavin om June 1928. Sidney took on the operation of the family grocery store from his father, William Wallace. As a young man Sidney was active in the affairs of the town serving on Police and Fire Departments. After the passing of her brother-in-law Frances served as town clerk for 6 years and as tax collector for 4 years; after which time these positions were held by John P. Lawrence. Sidney and his family resided on Cutler Street in Hudson. Sidney passed May 1888 and was laid to rest in Hills Farm Cemetery.
Between John J., John E. and Frances the Baker family occupied the office of town clerk for 71 years from 1892 to 1972. Researched and written by Ruth M. Parker.
This week we begin to revisit some of Hudson’s rural areas of the past. Farms and places of the past!! The first is the Oginskis/Karos Farm on Dracut Road.
Our Remember Hudson… travels this week take us to the south end of Hudson and 99 Dracut Road; for many years home to the Oginskis/Karos Family. The family of Joseph and Barbara (Martin) Oginskis purchased a farm of 57 acres plus house and barn from John Balandis on Old Lowell Road (now Dracut Road) in 1927. Their daughter Vera was about 22 years of age at the time. By 1940, Barbara was widowed; Vera was employed as a mill operator in Nashua. John Karos was residing at the farm and working as a farmhand. Four years later, in 1944, Vera and John were married.
This farmhouse at 99 Dracut Road remained home to Vera and John as well as to Barbara, Vera’s mom, who passed in December 1950. John worked as a machinist in Nashua, his last employment was with Sanders Associates. John passed in August 1966. Vera passed in 2004 at the age of 98. She lived all of her remaining live, except last few months, in this house; having been a Hudson resident for 75 years. I did not know Vera; but in talking with folks who did know her, she was a generous and respected neighbor. One neighbor remembers Vera’s kindness as she passed this home on her way to to catch the school bus a mile from her own home. Another person remembers Vera’s artistic talents and was able to save one of Vera’s paintings before the house was demolished. That painting is now at the Historical Society.
By 2004 all but 14 plus acres including dwelling and barns had been subdivided and sold. As part of her estate the remaining acres were sold to a developer and Hudson Meadows Condominium Association was soon established.
In the 13 years prior to 1927 this 57 acre farm with buildings had changed hands about 5 times. Going back to the early 1800’s this farm was purchased in 1824 by a Paul Hardy from Pelham, NH and it remained in the Hardy family until about 1913 when it was sold by his daughter Susan (Hardy) Cutter. From the age and style of the farmhouse I estimate it was built about 1850 by the Hardy Family.
The photo of the Karos Farmhouse is in the collection at the Historical Society compliments of Hudson Meadows Association. The photo of Hudson Meadows was taken in December 2016. Written and researched by Ruth M Parker.
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.
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.
As early as 1956 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 were bused, transported by car, or walked to Camp Cayuga on the Lowell Road in Hudson. Camp Cayuga, a summer day camp, was operated by John S. Groves on his family’s 265 acre farm. The camp activities started at 9 am and ended at 4 pm. Each camper brought their own lunch except on Thursdays when there was a noonday cookout. The camping season was 8 weeks, during the months of July and August. As many as 125 plus children came from towns like Milford, Amherst, Merrimack. Lowell, Chelmsford, Nashua and Hudson. Camp facilities included a large barn for a place of assembly, a swimming pond on the property which was recently dug by a bulldozer along a brook which ran thru the property, bath houses, Indian camps where campers divided into tribes, playing fields, horseback riding rinks, and woods for nature study. Horse back riding was one of the more popular events. special events,such as horse shows, carnivals, and fishing derbys, were often held.
The Groves farm was located on the western side of Lowell Road and extended to the Merrimack River. Until 1955 Mr. Groves had farmed the land and operated an automobile sales agency on the premises. He then turned from auto sales to teaching school. The idea of using the farm as a summer camp was suggested to him by a friend a few years earlier. The possibilities for expansion were considered as tremendous as within a 15 mile area there were 200,000 people and only 2 other day camps in the area.
Within a few years growth came to Lowell Road and with it an increase in property values. The State of New Hampshire had plans for a Circumferential Highway. By the early 1970’s the northern portion of this farm was used for the access road to the Sagamore Bridge. Of the remaining acres, the part abutting Lowell Road is the location of Sam’s Club; the back portion toward the river is part of The Green Meadows Golf Course, Photo courtesy of Leo Demers and now a part of the Historical Society Collection.
So..you want to ride the trolley to Manchester, Lowell, or Salem?
By 1893 tracks for the street railway (trolley) were in place from Nashua down East Hollis Street to and over the iron Taylor Falls Bridge into Hudson ending near the east end of the bridge. For two years this was a horse drawn trolley which provided fairly good service between Hudson and Nashua.
By 1895 it was re-organized as an electric railway and the tracks extended from the bridge up Central Street and down Lowell Road with a popular stop at the ‘five cent limit’ where Lowell Road branches into Dracut and River Roads (aka Stewert’s Coner). The tracks went beyond this point down River Road to the state line. The infrastructure of the iron Taylor Falls bridge was improved to handle the heavier trolley cars and the increase in both trolley and automotive traffic. This line provided service from Nashua to Lowell via Hudson. Hourly trips were made during the winter months and every 30 minutes in the summer. Running time from Nashua to Lowell was about 1 hour 10 minutes at a fare of 20 cents. The fare from Hudson to Lowell was 10 cents. If you had 10 cents in your pocket you could ride to ‘the limit’, enjoy a picnic lunch, and return home later in the day.
The Hudson, Pelham, and Salem street railway was incorporated by the state legislature March 7, 1889 with the authority to construct and maintain tracks from the bridge through Hudson Center and on to Pelham, Salem and the state line. This line was opened September 8, 1902. The tracks went from the bridge over Ferry Street. At the end of Ferry Street (near Burnham Road) the tracks went “off road” behind Westview Cemetery taking a sharp right turn crossing Central Street near what is now Burger King. From there it continued “off road” through wooded areas and behind the Haselton Barn on to Pelham. Relics of these tracks can be seen off to the right along parts of Speare road and again when it crossed the Gibson Road before entering Pelham. The speeds required to maintain good travel time were often times considered reckless on parts of this line. I have read that some folks even refused to ride this line and some predicted disaster.
Disaster did occur on Sunday afternoon September 6, 1903. Two cars collided on a section of track in Pelham, each car traveling around 25 miles per hour with about 70 travelers on both cars. Many of the passengers on the west bound car were returning home after a visit to Canobie Lake. The crash occurred on a hilly curve where visibility was poor. This accident resulted in 6 fatalities; and more than 40 injuries, many serious. Of those killed was Hudson Postmaster George C. Andrews. His wife Anabel received serious injuries from which she never completely recovered. The cause of the accident was a misunderstanding of the start-up orders for the train leaving Nashua and heading east. Once discovered, it was too late to stop either of the cars.
Between the huge damages and the safety factor this line was forced into receivership late 1904, was reorganized in 1907 and 5 years later consolidated into another company. The tracks for the Salem, Pelham, and Nashua line were abandoned in March 1924.
A trolley line from Taylor Falls bridge traveling north along Webster Street, through Litchfield, Goffs Falls, and Manchester was incorporated in 1905. The line opened for public travel January 1, 1907 with a 12 mile trip from the bridge to Goffs Falls at a cost of 20 cents and a running time of 45 minutes. Trips were made every hour in winter months and every 1/2 hour during the summer months.
These three trolley lines and the concrete Taylor Falls bridge built in 1909 did much to expand the growth of Hudson especially in the bridge area, causing the business center of town to shift from Hudson Center to the bridge area. The area around the intersection of the three trolley lines near the bridge became known as ‘railroad square’; so named for the street railroads as opposed to the steam railroad.
Before the popularity of the automobile residents could rely on the trolley for transportation to/from their jobs;for travel to Nashua and/or Lowell for shopping; and for recreation!! The owners of each of these trolley lines, in an effort to increase ridership invested in destination recreation facilities on each line. Just beyond the state line on River Road was Lake View Park; on the Pelham and Salem line was Canobie Lake Park; and on the Litchfield to Goffs Falls run thee was Pine Island Park.
The 1920’s with the rise of the automobline was tough on the trolley. Ridership dropped, safety vs speed became an issue. By 1932 all trolley traffic in Hudson had ceased. Researched and written by Ruth Parker.
This week’s memories extend to the George Steele farm at Stewerts Corner; the intersection of Lowell, Dracut, and River Roads. In the early 1900’s Hudson was serviced by three trolley routes. One of these routes went from the Taylor Falls Bridge, down Central Street, then down Lowell Road to Stewerts Corner. The fare from Taylor Falls Bridge to Stewerts Corner was five cents!! Thus, Stewerts Corner was also called ‘the five cent limit’ or ‘the limit’. During warm months open-bench trolley cars were used. Many children and adults would pack a picnic lunch and ride the trolley to the ‘limit’. Once there they could buy ice cream and soda at George Steele’s farm store. The first photo shows his store C1899 with two ladies and children waiting outside; perhaps for the trolley. If the season was right they could also pick strawberries for Mr. Steele for two cents a box! For additional fare, families could extend their trip down River Road to Lakeview Park, an entertainment area just over the state line, or go all the way to Lowell and spend time shopping.
George and his brother Fred were native to Hudson; growing up and working with their father, Silas, on the family farm on what is now the Steele Road. As a young man of 24, George purchased his own acreage from William Chase in 1887. By 1893 he married Edith Colburn and built their home on River Road. For most of their adult lives, George and Fred continued to operate large vegetable/market gardens near Stewerts Corner. The George Steele farm remained in his family until surviving son, Ralph, sold the property to the Friel family in 1977. The land and buildings are now a part of Green Meadows Country Club.
The second photo is an aerial view of the George Steele Farm C1942. We see gardens along both sides of River Road. Photos courtesy of the Steele Family and now a part of the Historical Society Collection. Researched and written by Ruth M Parker.
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.