Blodgett Cemetery

 

Blodgett Cemetery

Blodgett Gate at Pelham and Lowell Roads

Our next cemetery to visit is the Blodgett Cemetery, located on Pelham Road at the intersection with Lowell Road and about 1 1/2 miles south of the Taylor Falls and Memorial Bridges. It is the third burial yard, in order of age, in Hudson. It contains about 1 acre of land and was acquired by the town on or before 1748 from Benjamin Whittemore for a meeting house and public uses. The state boundary with Massachusetts was established in 1746, leaving the residents of town in need of a meeting house site more central to it’s people. This site was selected and by 1748 the second meeting house was erected by the town. Kimball Webster in his History of Hudson describes the site of the meeting house as on the south side of the yard and near the present gate of the cemetery. The burial plots were the church yard, surrounding the house on the rear and on both ends.

In time the meeting house was moved away, and the No 4 school house built on the site. By the winter of 1855 the school house burned. Prior to this time a question was raised about the town’s title to this lot on the north side. At the town meeting of 1839 the town appointed a special committee of Thomas Wason, Jeremiah Smith, and Daniel Davis to investigate. This committee met with Reuban Greeley, Esq. the abutter on the north end. After this meeting, all parties agreed to establish an east west boundary on the north side of the town owned land.

After the schoolhouse fire in 1855 that site was abandoned in favor of a location nearby. As the land upon which the schoolhouse had stood belonged to the town it was added to the cemetery and a short time later a cemetery association was organized. The yard was then enclosed by a stone wall with an iron gate. The grounds were cleared of bushes and rubbish and other improvements were made. Family lots were located and laid out using the vacant grounds. Unfortunately, either from carelessness or willfulness, new lots were plotted upon grounds of some ancient graves and they were obliterated. In Webster’s History he reported this as inexcusable and lacking the respect which should have been due to these early settlers.

The most ancient date found among the inscriptions of this place is that of Priscilla Chase who passed October 5, 1749. The most frequent surnames found on the headstones are Blodgett, Greeley, Burns, Chase, Pollard, Winn, Wason, Hale, Caldwell, Page, Wilson, Cross, Merrill, and Burbank.

Within this cemetery are four generations of Blodgetts with the name Joseph. Joseph, born 1760, served in the Battle of Bennington in 1777. Being a lad of 17 he did not receive credit for his service at either the local or the national level until 2007, some 229 years later. His service has since been registered at the national level by Ruth (Baldwin) Williams, a descendant of his from Oak Forest, IL. when she applied for membership is the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Young Joseph served with his father and the records for his service were credited to his father. His grave site in Blodgett Cemetery received a Revolutionary Soldier marker at a Memorial Day ceremony in 2007. Mrs. Williams coordinated this event with the Cemetery trustees, the American Legion of Hudson, and the Hudson Historical Society.

The photo shows the gate into this cemetery in 2007 and is part of the Historical Society collection.

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Ford Cemetery at Musquash Road

Ford Cemetery S

Entrance Gate Ford Cemetery

The Ford cemetery is located on Musquash Road less than 1/4 mile south of  the site of the first meetinghouse of Nottingham. and on the same side of the road.   The location of the meetinghouse is at the entrance to the  Musquash Conservation Area and is identified by a granite marker.  This  cemetery, also known as the South End cemetery and the Musquash cemetery,  was laid out and dedicated as a burial place in 1734, just a short time after the building of the meetinghouse.
The custom of the early settlers in this part of New England was to have a public burying ground, or church yard as often called, connected to and often times surrounding it on three sides of the meeting house..  This was not practical at this location because the land in that vicinity was rocky and ledgy, not suitable as a place for the internment of the dead.  The selected site is as near the church as as a suitable plot of ground could be found.
To locate this cemetery one needs only to travel south on Musquash from the conservation area less that 1/4 mile.  On your left you will find a gravel driveway; the cemetery will be found a short distance in on this driveway.  Be careful as the cemetery cannot be easily seen from Musquash Road.  This burying ground contains about 1/4 acre, enclosed by a stone wall with an iron gate.  Above the iron gate is perched a long granite post laying horizontal  with the ground and supported on each side buy a similar granite post.  You walk under this post as you open the gate to enter the cemetery.
The most frequent names found within this yard are Snow, Merrill, Ford, Fuller, Gowing, Barron, Wilson, and Connell.
There is no debate as to the antiquity of this place; in fact some historians have claimed that it is the most ancient of all Hudson;s cemeteries.  The earliest date found in this yard is that on the headstone of Ensigh John Snow, “who departed this life March the 28th, A.D., 1735.  Aged 68 years, 4 month, and 3 days.  This headstone is a very thick, wide and heavy one and not very high.  This is the most ancient inscription of any, not only in this yard, it also predates the earliest date of 1738 found in Hills Farm cemetery or any other cemetery in town.  Ensign John Snow resided nearly on Musquash Road.  The first town meeting of Nottingham, MA  was held at his house on May 1, 1733.
This yard is the final resting place of Rev. Nathaniel Merrill, the first minister settled in this town. and his wife Betsey. He preached here for more than 50 years.
Without a doubt the most intriguing headstone within this yard is the double stone indicating the death of Capt. Thomas Colburn, age 63, and his 3 year old son, Thomas.  Both were killed on August 30, 1765 while asleep in their bed by a single flash of lightening.
The most recent, and I believe the last, internment to be made in this place, were those of Leslie Shunaman (died 2005)  and his wife Leslie (dield 2004).  Louise and Leslie were well known residents of Hudson and life members of the Historical Society.
I have a mystery concerning this cemetery and perhaps some of our readers can help!  Allen Morgan grew up in South Hudson and recalls visiting this cemetery with some of his ‘buddies’.  He recalls an inscription within this cemetery which reads “here lies the body of x who was lost at sea and never found”.  I have searched the cemetery and the inscriptions printed in 1908 by Kimball Webster and can find no reference to this!!  If anyone has an idea they can sent email to Ruth at HudsonHistorical@live.com or leave a message at 880-2020.

Hills Farm Cemetery

Cemetery Roadway S

Cemetery and Chapel Gate

There are  eleven cemeteries or burial places in Hudson.  They are Hills Farm, Ford, Blodgett, Hudson Center, Senter, Sunnyside, Westview, St. Pattrick, Holy Cross, Cemetery of the Unknown, and the Presentation of Mary’s cemetery.  Last week we looked at the Senter Burying Ground at Potash Corner.  This week we will visit the  Hills Farm Cemetery.
Early settlements of Dunstable, MA (now Hudson) clustered around the Hills Garrison in the north and the Blodgett Garrison in the south end of town.  The earliest of these  occurred about 1710 when three sons of Samuel  Hills (Nathaniel, Henry, and James) erected and settled in the Hills Garrison. The original part of the Hills Farm cemetery was located on level, sandy land about half way between what is now the Derry and Litchfield Roads and adjacent to Derry Lane.  This was the south-east corner of the Hills farm where Nathaniel and his brothers settled.  The exact date when this cemetery was first used as a burial place is not known but must have been some years after the Hills brothers settled at the garrison, and probably not earlier than about 1730.  It is known that Nathaniel Hills buried two or three of his children in the in the ancient burial ground in South Nashua near the entrance to Royal Ridge Mall.   The early settlers seldom erected head stones to identify the graves of their deceased loved ones; so, the markings we do find do not indicate the earliest interments.
The earliest  date found in this cemetery is 1738, crudely cut into a common stone with no inscription to indicate the individual interred there.  The next date found is that found in the inscription found on a headstone for  Joseph Greele , who departed this life March 7, 1745, in his 95th year.
Even though this cemetery was on the Hills property  and likely laid out by Nathaniel Hills it was it was used as a public burial place.  The early families of Hudson found among the headstones include Hills, Greeley, Spalding, Marsh, Marshall, Pierce, Cross, and Sprake.
About 1872 small additions of adjacent land were added to the cemetery.  These additions with some other vacant land in the yard were laid out into lots, streets were graded, the brush removed, and other improvements were made thus improving the overall appearance of the cemetery.  The cemetery contained a little less than one and one half acres.  In 1885, as permitted by state laws, the yard was incorperated as “The Farms Cemetery’  The charter was amended in 1905, changing the name to “Hills Farms Cemetery”.  About this time Dr. Alfred K. Hills, realizing the need for expansion of the cemetery, purchased a large tract of land adjacent to the cemetery and extending to the Derry Road.  He then had six acres of this parcel surveyed for an addition to the cemetery.  Upon part of the remaining land Dr. Hills built Alvirne Memorial Chapel in 1908 as a memorial for his wife Virginia.
Cemetery and Chapel Gate S

Roadway to Hills Farm

At the present time the Alvirne Chapel and the main entrance to Hills Farm Cemetery share access  from 160 Derry Road.  There is a secondary entry to the cemetery from Derry Lane.  The entrance from Derry Road is through an iron gate between two granite posts  inscribed  with Hills Farm Cemetery on one and Alvirne Memorial Chapel on the other.  Access to the cemetery is then through a right of way through  the parking lot to a shaded, wooden drive which takes you to the cemetery.  Hills Farm Cemetery is incorporated and under the management and direction of a Board of Trustees. This cemetery is open for new burials and there are lots available for purchase.  The contact person for the cemetery is George LaRocque.   The photos were taken by the author.

Senter Cemetery at Potash Corner

Senter Burial Ground at Potash Corner

First a few words about Potash Corner and how it may have received its name.  The term Potash refers to a variety of minerals which contain  the element potassium in a water soluble form.  The early settlers recognized the benefits of potassium both in gardening and as an ingredient  for making soap.  Its presence in the soil is a contributor to healthy plants and larger yields.  Potash can be found in natural deposits; it is also a by-product of burning plant material such as wood.  Thinking about it, every early New England home  with their  huge chimneys and fireplaces in each room had a ready source of potash.
Back to the naming of Potash Corner. The name may have been the result of natural deposits of potash and the early farmers had developed  a method of removing the potassium by soaking in water.  It is also possible that the corner had become a central location to deposit excess wood ash and thus sharing the potash with others – like a community compost pile for potassium.  It is also possible that some combination of both these events lead to the naming of potash corner.  Whatever the origin, the name survived and still remains on many of the maps of Hudson.
A small burying place, containing almost 3/4 acre, called Senter Cemetery or Senter Yard,  was first located in the south west corner of Londonderry at Potash Corner.  Likely set off from the Senter Farm from which it was named.  Lookng at the names and dates on the inscriptions one can see it was used a burying place for Londonderry residents several years before the annexation to Nottingham West (now Hudson) in 1778.
We do not know the date this yard was first used for burials.  From the inscriptions recorded by Kimball Webster in 1908 the oldest date found was upon a rough stone marked E.L. K.I.D. Feb. 24, 1759 which probably stands for Kidder.  The next to the oldest is the marker for Jean Senter, wife of John Senter, died Jul 10, 1765.  John and Jean Senter were the grand-parents of Deacon Thomas Senter.  If John Senter was laid to rest along side his wife his marker, along with many other, have long since been destroyed or disappeared.  In 1995 the descendants of John and Jean Senter placed a memorial marker at the cemetery in their memory.

John Senter Memorial

At some early point in time the yard was enclosed within a respectable stone wall.   As time passed and interest in the upkeep of the cemetery waned, the wall fell to disrepair and fell down is some places.  Cattle could enter at will from adjoining pastures and the grounds became so covered with brush that the cemetery’s appearance  was not a credit to the Town of Hudson.  In 1897 the selectmen of Hudson caused the walls to be repaired and an iron gate erected.  About the same time the brush was removed and the appearance of the yard was improved.
Within this cemetery the surnames most frequently found are Andrews, Farley, Greeley, Hobbs, Kidder, and Senter.  A large number of grave sites in this cemetery are not marked with head stones and inscriptions.  Some of these sites may have never been marked; for the others the markers have long since been removed or destroyed.
For the past several years the Senter Cemetery has been maintained in excellent condition by the Hudson Highway Department.  A few years back the  original iron gate  was replaced  by the Town Cemetery Trustees and Anger Welding.  These photos  ware taken by the author in August 2017.

The Senter Homestead on Old Derry Road

Thomas Senter Home S

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

98 Old Derry Early S

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.

98 Old Derry 2017

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 .

 

53 Old Derry Road

53 Old Derry c1909

53 Old Derry C 1909

The earliest known residents of this farmhouse were Gilman Andrews and his family.  Gilman was born in Hudson (then Nottingham West) in December 1806.  In September 1834, at the age of 28, he married Sophia Senter.  Sophia was a local girl; the daughter of nearby Charles Senter and the grand daughter of  Moses Greeley. A few years after their marriage, in December 1836, he purchased this site from  Abijah Hills.   Gilman was a farmer.  The agricultural census shows his farm consisted of one horse, 5 milking cows, one pig, and   produce  of corn, oats, peas, beans, potatoes, hay, butter, and cheese.  There is evidence of an earlier house, located east and north of the present one; but it is not clear if this was an initial residence for Gilman or for some older half sibling of his.  Gilman remained on his farm and in this house until his death in 1886 at the age of 79.

 

This was the childhood home of Gilman and Sophia’s three children:  Charles (born 1837), Mary Jane (born 1839) and George Gilman (born 1847).  As adults each   lead very different lives.  Charles moved to Nashua and worked as a as a station agent for the railroad.

As a young lady Mary Jane taught school at the nearby Number 9 school which was then located on Old Derry Road near the intersection with Greeley Street,  She was also a talented musician.  She played the organ at the Baptist Church and was a member of the Hudson  Singing  Society.  In fact, the  Mason and Hamlin Organ she played at the church has been restored and is  at the Hills House.    Mary Jane  married Hudson native Harvard Payson Smith in January 1864.  In 1857, at the age of 19, he left Hudson for Red Wing, MN.  While there he was a school teacher and involved in the laying out of roads.  In 1861 he returned to Hudson and began the study of medicine until the outbreak of the Civil War.  He enlisted and served as a sharpshooter  serving a little over 3 years. After their marriage he returned to Red Wing with Mary Jane.  They later moved to Lake County, Dakota.  In 2013 a number of memorabilia and documents pertaining to the Andrews Family and life in Hudson were returned to the Hudson Historical Society  from a museum in Madison, SD.  From these we have glimpses into her life here in Hudson.

George Gilman (born 1847) remained with the farm and  took it over after Gilman’s death.  He also became a successful business man and purchased a general store at Post Office Square in Hudson, serving as postmaster.  He also held many offices in the Town of Hudson.  He build a fine Victorian style home for his family on Main Street (now Ferry Street) – located about where the current Gulf station is.  George maintained the farm and operated his business interests until September 6. 1908 when he was tragically killed during an electric car accident on the Pelham line as he and his wife Anabel were returning home.  She was severely injured and lived the remainder of her life in Hudson.  Their daughter, Maude, a well known Hudson resident resided with  her mother on Ferry Street.

53 Old Derry 2012 (640x480)

53 Old Derry C 2012

After George’s death Anabel sold the farm to Rachel Ober in April 1904.  The Ober family was living at the farmhouse in 1933 when fire destroyed the upper stories of the C 1830 21/2 story home.  Our first photo is that of the original home of Gilman Andrews and Rachel Ober prior to the 1933 fire.   The place was inactive until purchased by the  Jasper Family in 1941.

 

The home was then remodeled  to the 1 1/2 story  building with a front porch which we see today.  It became the home of Robert and Reita Jasper and their young family.  After the Jasper properties ceased to operate as a poultry farm, Robert and Reita established and operated  a camping area known as “Tuck A Way” in the area behind the farmhouse.  In 1985 the property was transferred to The Nash Family.  Since that time some acreage was transferred to the State of New Hampshire for the proposed circumferential highway.  Our second photo shows the 1 1/2 story house from town records C 2012.

 

Thanks to the Jasper Family for the early photo of the Andrews/Ober Home.

 

 

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