EssoHeat Truck Crash May 23, 1947

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Essoheat Truck Crash May 23, 1947

On May 23, 1947 John J. Montgomery of Lowell, MA was operating this EssoHeat delivery truck in Hudson on route to a delivery in Derry.  At about 3:00 pm he lost control of the vehicle near the Gile home on Derry Road and crashed headlong into a stone Wall.  Mr. Montgomery was shaken up but escaped serious injury.  The front end of the truck was badly damaged. Police Chief Polak reported the accident was due to faulty steering mechanism.

Police Chief Polak detailed police officers to guard the truck and also called for a fire truck which remained at the scene as a safety measure until 10:00pm.  Assistant Fire Chief Harry D. Emerson was in charge.

I had no idea where the Giles home was on Derry Road.  In 1947 Derry Road also included Old Derry Road out to the Londonderry Line.  After a trip to the Registry of Deeds and access to the town records I learned that the Giles home had been  located at what is now 145 Old Derry Road.  As you travel on Old Derry Road, heading towards Londonderry, you pass the Hudson Speedway and the intersection with Robinson Road. On your left is the Senter Cemetery.  About 1/10 mile further you come to 145 Old Derry Road on your right

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Elizabeth Gile  purchased this homestead in 1944.  Prior to that the property was owned by Alphonse Lee and his wife Delima.  Prior to that it was owned by members of the Heath family and earlier the Senter Family.  In 1952 Roy Cross and his wife Lena (Avery)  purchased the property from the estate of Elizabeth Gile.  Roy Cross passed in 1959 and Lena continued to make this her home until she passed in 1970.  In 1972 the property was purchased by Paul F. Gauvreau from Lena’s daughter Flora Kinsey.  Paul had a keen interest in this section of Hudson particularly the Poor Farm and the Poor Farm Cemetery behind the farmhouse on Old Derry Road.  Paul’s research was instrumental in kindling public awareness of the old Poor Farm Cemetery.

Officer Polak and the Cruiser 1942

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Officer “Andy” Polak and the Cruiser 1942

Andrew “Andy” Polak served 34 years as a member of the Hudson Police Force, 26 of these years as Police Chief.  For the year ending January 31, 1943 the Police Department operated with a budget of $3,200; including $1,826 salary for H.J. Connell as Chief, 13 part time officers earning .50 per hour, and expenses for operating the police cruiser.  Of the police officers “Andy” logged the most hours; earning a salary of $350.50 for 701 hours!  In April 1946 Officer Polak was appointed Chief after Chief Harry Connell resigned due to poor health.  Chief Polak remained in that capacity until his retirement in October 1972.
In this weeks photo we see Officer “Andy” next to the Police Cruiser on the Derry Road in front of Goodwin’s Fried Clam Stand with  Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in the background.  Visible are the front wall of the cemetery, a house adjacent to the cemetery,  and the corner of the roof of Goodwin’s Stand.  Perhaps “Andy” was at “the stand” on town business as Fred T. Goodwin, proprietor, was one of the three Selectmen for the Town of Hudson.
Police activities for Chief Polak in the early years was much different than today.  In addition to being Police Chief he was also the Health Officer, responsible for recording measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases.  The mobile radio installed in the cruiser was receive only.  Calls for service were dispatched to the Chief.  After completing the call or if he needed additional personnel he would have to find a phone nearly to call in his report.
Chief Polak attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Washington, DC where he learned about all phases of police work and investigations including fingerprinting, photography, and shooting.  The local Lions Club was able to sponsor this schooling for the benefit of the town.
During his time as Chief “Andy” and his department were instrumental in solving many major crimes in Hudson; here are a few.    In 1958 a man reported that his wife was missing to an on duty officer at the Hudson Speedway.  After investigations and questioning the huspand it was disclosed that he and his wife had argued and she had been murdered and was buried out of state.
The following year Hudson was the site of one of the largest robberies in the state up to the time.  Three men entered Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, beat a watchman, bound and gagged an animal trainer, and opened the safe with a blowtorch removing $23,000.  After 8 months and a five state investigation  the crime was solved.  No significant amount of money was recovered’ however a large number of other roberies were solved in connection with this investigation.
In 1968 the first bank robbery in Hudson occurred.  The Indian Hean Bank, then located on Ferry Street near the site of the present Santander Bank, was robbed.  The investigation of this $1,900 robberd was unsuccessful.
In 2000, during a ceremony to recognize retired Chief Polak at the Historical Society, he donated his police uniform to the Society to be retained as part of our town’s history.  Information for this article is from the book Town in Transition, Hudson, NH and from the Hudson, NH Town Report for the year ending January 31, 1943,  Copies of the Town in Transition are available for purchase from the Historical Society.  The photograph is from the Society’s collection and was a donation from Celia Polak, daughter of the Chief.

Webster Street looking North C 1920

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Webster St North from Ferry St C 1920

In 1893 the horse drawn trolley line from Nashua came across the Taylor Falls Bridge and ended at the Hudson side of the bridge.  Hudson businessmen and residents encouraged the transit company to extend the line further into the streets of town.  By 1895 the line was reorganized as an electric railway and the line extended into Hudson on Central Street, and down Lowell Road.  At the same time the iron bridge, built 14 years earlier was repaired and strengthened to withstand the extra weight of the engines and the increased traffic.
In 1902 a second  line was extended onto Ferry Street to Hudson Center and then on to Pelham and Salem.  In 1907 a third line was completed also traveling on the bridge into Post Office Square.  Rather than continuing on Ferry Street this line made a sharp turn northward along Webster Street towards Manchester.  Some of the tracks for this line were on the street right of way but many ran off road in open fields or wooded areas.  A trip from Taylor Falls Bridge to Manchester took 45 minutes and the fare was 20 cents.
A business area developed near the bridge.  As you crossed from Nashua you could take a left onto Ferry or a right onto Central Street.  If you turned left  there was a business block on your left known as Martin (later Connell) Block.  This was an apartment building and location of Daniels and Gilbert Grain and Grocery,  Later this was location of a small garage and the 20th Century Store.  After passing this block one came to Webster Street, a left turn from Ferry Street.  In the late 1960’s, to make way for the construction of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (northern span) this entire block and other buildings in the area were demolished.  The northern span was built just north of the old Taylor Falls Bridge at about the same location as this Martin Block.  A a result  in Webster Street ending at a turn around at the Ferry Street end.  Today you can exit from Ferry onto Webster; but cannot enter Ferry from Webster Street.
In the early 1900’s Hudson had a police court  with George W. Clyde and Nathaniel Wentworth acting as judges.  There was a small grainery on the bank of the Merrimack River off Webster Street which also served as a house of detention (jail) for individuals until they were released or transported to Nashua for longer stays and more secure accommodations.

This brings us to this week’s photo of Webster Street, looking north, just after the intersection with Ferry Street C 1920.  Along the left of Webster Street are the  tracks of the trolley which went north to Manchester.  Think of the sharp turn the trolley car(s) made after leaving the bridge, stopping at the transfer station to leave and/or pick up passengers, then making the turn onto Webster street and heading north.

The small building on the left is the grainery which history tells us was also used as the local jail.  You may ask what became of the jail?  According to the Town Report for the year ending 1918 the town paid Law and Ingham $13.00 to move a safe and cells.  Did not state where they were moved from or to.  Also, a brief article in the February 19, 1918 edition of the Nashua Telegraph tells us that a young man named Roland Abbott had plans to repair and remodel the building and use it as a club house for the young people of Hudson.  It is doubtful that this club house ever became a reality.  We do know the building was later moved to Ferry Street, placed on a foundation and used as part of the dwelling at what is now 88 Ferry Street. At the time of this move the property was owned by Nathen Cummings.  Some residents of today may remember it as the home of Clayton and Victoria Smith.  Photo from the Historical Society Collection.

Hudson Center School Bell

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School Bell at Hills House

Each year as part of the Hudson History Tour students delight in ringing the bell located on the front lawn of the Hills House.  This bell once hung high above Hudson Center in the tower of the old two room school house on Kimball Hill Road.  A few rings from this bell would announce to all the beginning of classes or the end of recess or lunch period.
The Hudson Center School was built in 1908 as a replacement for the Smith School on Windham Road which had burned.  Why this alternate site was selected rather than rebuilding on the original site is not entirely clear; but I suspect it had to to with the need for a reliable and safe water source.  By the beginning of the school year 1908 this bell had been placed in the school  tower  where it would remain for over 65 years. The bell was given to the town by Henry C. Brown, a well known resident of Hudson Center.  Mr. Brown served as Postmaster of the Hudson Center Post Office located in the train station which sat along side the tracks off Greeley Street and behind the Town Hall (not Wattannick Hall). His residence was on Kimball Hill Road opposite the Hudson Center Common and the Baptist Church.  His house became part of the Benson Farm property and was demolished by the state prior to the town’s ownership.
From 1908 until 1956 students from the Hudson Center and even West Windham attended this two room school house for grades 1 thru 6.  I myself remember attending grades 1-3 with Mrs. Marguarite Gilman as teacher; and then grades 4 and 5 with Miss Florence Parker.  By my 6th year we were seeing the possibility of closing this school house due to small enrollment at Hudson Center and available space in the schools in the bridge area.  I attended Webster School for the 6th grade and then on to Alvirne for grades 7 -12.
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Charlie and Eric Parker Transporting Bell

The old school closed in 1956 and remained unoccupied until mid 1970’s.  By that time the property and school building were owned by Mr and Mrs Robert Thompson.  In 1974 with the help of the Hudson Fire Department the bell was removed from the tower and placed in the bed of “Charlie” Parker’s pick-up truck.  It was then transported by “Charlie”  and his brother Eric to the Historical Society.  The Society contracted with Adrien Labrie  to construct the bell stand for $485.00.  There the bell remains awaiting the occasional ringing by students or visitors to the grounds — especially during Old Home Days.

Aerial View Fulton and Reed Streets C 1955

 

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Aerial View Fulton, Reed, Central Streets C 1955

If you live in the vicinity of Maple Avenue, Reed, Fulton, and Central Street you may well be able to locate your home on this C 1955 aerial photograph. Based upon our accession records at the Historical Society this photo was taken C 1955 from an aircraft owned by Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems of Nashua). The lack of foliage on the trees during the winter months increased the visibility of the buildings from the air. The aircraft was flying in a south easterly direction over this area.

If we look to the left of center the easiest building to locate is the American Legion building at the corner of Central and Fulton Streets at 37 Central. Opposite Fulton at Central is the beginning of Chase Street. We can see the homes from 43 Central westerly toward Maple Avenue and the bridge; including homes to 16 Central Street. The Hudson Community Church (Brick Church) is not shown but you can see the shadow of the church building on Central Street and the home opposite the church. At the time of this photo this home was known as the Dudley/Emerson House; home of Deputy Harry Emerson; a 50 year member of the Hudson Fire Department. In the late 1960’s this home and other homes in the area of Central and Ferry Streets were razed in order to improve access to and egress from the Veteran’s Memorial and New Taylor Falls Bridges. This lot remained empty until 2016 at which time the property was sold and a duplex house is now being built on this site.

Between 27 and 25 Central we see Maple Avenue going southerly past the intersection with Reed Street on the left and on toward what is now Merrill Park on the right and near the edge of the Merrimack River. At the end of Maple Avenue is the remains of the right of way for the steam railroad used by residents to make a connection with the southern end of Fulton Street. Another easy to identify landmark is at the corner of Maple and Reed Street. This house is the former Merrill Family Home. Known to many as the home of Marjorie and Natalie Merrill and a previous site of Hudson’s Town Library.

Returning on Fulton Street towards Central we see most of Reed Street running parallel with Central and extending towards Gillis Street on the upper left of the photo. As we move away from the bridge area we can identify a number of undeveloped lots and open space beyond Gillis and Reed Streets.

One final street to locate is the beginning of School Street just at the intersection with Cummings Street as shown on the lower left in the photo. Easily identified are the homes of Paul and Hazel Buxton and their family on School Street; and the former home of Dr. William Quigley and his family facing the intersection with Cummings Street. The Buxton Family has (and is) serving the town in a number of areas; including Fire Department, Historical Society, and Hills Memorial Library. Dr. Quigley provided medical services to Hudson and Hudson Schools. This photo is from the collection at the Historical Society.

Odd Fellows Building

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Odd Fellows Hall C 1912

Before 1895 a good number of men from Hudson were members of one of two Odd Fellows Lodges in Nashua. The participation from Hudson grew as did interest in organizing a lodge in Hudson. In October 1895 decisive action was taken and Hudson Lodge No 94 was instituted in the newly constructed Andrews hall located near the bridge. Membership grew and so did interest in having their own building in Hudson. In 1902 the Odd Fellows Building Association of Hudson was organized for that purpose. Many members of the lodge as well as many townspeople who were not members became stockholders in this endeavor. A parcel of land on Central Street was purchased from the William Hutchinson and Charles M. Woodward. This parcel, located at what is now 37 Central Street, had been a portion of the estate left to Helen E. and H. Georgina Gillis from their father. At the time of purchase Fulton Street was in the planning stage.

The building contained a large ‘lodge room’ with anti-rooms and other accommodations for the lodge membership. The basement contained a spacious banquet room and adjacent kitchen. The first floor had another large hall, called Association Hall. It was a large assembly room complete with a stage.

The building was completed and occupied by the lodge in early 1903. This building not only provided meeting space for the Odd Fellows and the Echo Rebekah Lodge it also provided meeting and banquet space for other organization and private occasions. The lodge continued as a thriving organization or several years, helping their fellow man, assisting widow and orphans and generally offering a good influence in Hudson. By the early 1940’s membership was dwindling and by 1947 the remaining members transferred to Granite Lodge in Nashua.

American Legion C 2016

American Legion C 2016

In April 1944 after a vote by the residents at the previous Town Meeting the town purchased the building for $4,000. The intent of this purchase was to donate and dedicate the building to the American Legion in honor and memory of all veterans who have or will serve to defend our country. A condition of this purchase and transfer was that future maintenance and improvements were the responsibility of the American Legion Post 48. In 1954, in order to clean up any question of title, the property was again deeded to the American Legion Post #48 by the town. The earliest photo is of the Odd Fellow’s Building as shown in The History of Hudson C 1912. The later photo is the American Legion Building as shown in the town records.

World War II Honor Roll and War Memorial

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WW II Honor Roll at Library Park

 

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 the registration of young men for the draft was begun by the Draft Board of Exeter, NH. Registration of Hudson men was held in February 1942 in the lower room of the Hills Memorial Library. Males between 18 and 45 were registered and classified. The total population of our town was then about 3,400.

Members of the American Legion Post No. 48 constructed an honor roll on the east side near Library Street) of Library Park in 1942. As individual men and women entered the service their name was added to the honor roll. As the number of service men increased the initial honor roll board became filled and was replaced by a larger one. The Post Commander, Webster W. White, and a committee of three members, Robert Pratt, Chairman, Paul Buxton, and Harold Farnum with cooperation of the Town Clerk were responsible for the posting of names.The earliest photo shown here is that of the World War II honor roll with some 368+/- names as listed in the Town Report for the year ending January 31, 1944. After the hostilities ended in 1945 this honor roll remained in place on Library Park. Just how long it remained, I am not sure. After it was removed there was no War Memorial for veterans of World War II or any subsequent wars or conflicts until August 1991 when the American Legion erected the present War Memorial.

War Memorial 2016

War Memorial 2016

The Hudson Veterans War Memorial is in honor all who have honorable served in our armed forced, both living and deceased, during all conflicts of our great nation. This project was started in 1989 and authorized by the veterans group in early 1990. Past Post Commander “Billy” Mitchel promoted the original concept, which was further refined by other post members. As with most projects of this magnitude, help from many sources were needed. Mr. James Arsenault designed the center of the monument, Hudson Monument Company was contracted for the stones and artwork. Employees of the Hudson Public Works Department volunteered services for the groundwork, concrete was provided by Brox Industrues, and Hudson Paving Company formed the foundation. The completed memorial was dedicated Sunday August 18, 1991 as part of Hudson’s Old Home Days. Both photos are from the collection of the Historical Society.

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