When you receive this newsletter it is my hope that there are strong signs of spring everywhere. Perhaps it is my age but this winter seems to be the coldest and snowiest since childhood. Despite that the WHS has not been in hibernation but hard at work on plans for the upcoming season and making acquisitions of interest for our museum.
As you will note elsewhere Ray Clark has arranged a varied number of topics for our monthly meetings which are held the second Monday evening of every month from April 13th to November 9th. These meetings start at 7:30PM at Camp Morgan Lodge and are preceded by a pot luck supper at 6 PM and a brief business meeting at 7 PM. The topics include; Horace Greeley Returns to NH, the Industrial History of NH and NE, Brewing in NH, the Stone Bridges of Hillsboro and many other interesting subjects.
Old Home Days will not be held until 2010 but we will still hold an old fashioned ham and bean supper on Saturday evening August 1st at Camp Morgan Lodge. The dinner will require a great deal of help from setting up to clean up and everything in between. We will need a number of people to make the work feasible for all. Please volunteer at one of our early meetings or when we call.
On another matter I am pleased to announce that we have made a major purchase of a Farnsworth album containing pictures of early families of Washington including the Farnsworth, Ball, Robinson, Crandall and Whaley families. The album was brought to our attention by Sandy Poole and the keen work of Gwen Gaskell and Phil Barker enabled us to out bid substantial competition. Of course that is the good news but the purchase also depleted our funds for future acquisitions. Any specific contributions to future purchases would be appreciated.
We have developed an exciting new item for sale. With the help of the Hofstetter family we have put together a great picture of the town common which will be printed onto a 6" x 6" leather backed tile trivet. It can be used for display or as a trivet for hot or cold items.
I realize that like my first newsletter I have continued to talk about dues and volunteers. But both are essential to our continuing to preserve the best of Washington for future generations
Seventeen eighty-eight is the earliest record of a store in Washington and Azariah Faxon became remembered as the first storekeeper. There were two early stores in the area of the present Alpaca farm on the Lempster Mountain Road and a few years later one moved onto what later became the "turnpike" in the center of town near the monument. Reuben Farnsworth kept store across the road from the Faxon house, at the old Perkins place, which is now only a cellar hole. Later he built and occupied the property which became known as the Lull's. (The former post office, next to the general store) Daniel Greenleaf kept a store in a building which was between the hotel (built in 1802) and the brick store that he built in 1820, now owned as a home by the Gilberts.
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Moving to the new building, he and his brother continued in
trade. Several others tried the business before Muzzey & Gilmore took
over and operated it from 1864 until 1870. Then Gilmore sold out to
Muzzey, who operated it until 1895. The father, Nathan Lull, and his
two sons Frank & Charles, opened a store across from the brick store
in 1872. When Nathan died in 1892 his sons continued to run it until
1897 when A. B. Davison bought it and operated it until 1918. It was
no longer a store, but in 1928 it became a tea room and inn until
1940. It was torn down in 1945. This place of business had a scale
for weighing hay or lumber in the front yard. We understand that this
scale is still in town.
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Business continued across the street at the brick store and it seems
that more people decided that the store business wasn't a bad one to
be in, as just down the road at the red house next to the present
museum Willie Brockway opened a store in 1891. In 1897 he bought out
Muzzey and moved to the brick store, adding a barbershop to the front
northwest corner. In 1909 he moved down the street to the house
beside the monument and was there for 6 more years, before moving to
Penacook in 1915. Sumner Ball purchased the brick store in 1909 and
apparently it did not operate as a store again until Harry Newman
rented the space and ran a store for 2 years, from 1917 to 1919 when
Pearl Young and his wife Mary bought it.
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While all this exchange of ownership was happening in the center of
Washington there remained a need for a store over in East Washington.
In 1834 William P. Greenleaf (son of Daniel) built and briefly
operated what eventually became known as the Friend store. In 1844
Solomon E. Jones, who lived next door, purchased the property and
carried on the trade for 22 years, when he sold the business. After
several proprietors, James K. P. Friend bought and operated the store
for several years before he closed it and moved to Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, Hiram J. Gage (who as a small boy had been a clerk in the
store of his uncle Solomon E. Jones) had opened a store in a former
shoe shop on the corner and across the road from what was then a
Methodist Church, (The church later became the Grange Hall.) at the
intersection with Bradford Road. He and his son operated the store,
as well as one in Hillsborough, until 1896 when they sold to Melvin E.
Hixson. Hixson expanded the business and sold everything from grain
and farm supplies to nails and carpenters' chalk, fabric and sewing
notions for the ladies and penny candy for all. The store was also a
post office and the stop for the daily stage. Hixson carried on
business there until 1918 when he had an auction, selling all the
goods, and moved to Walpole, MA.
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There was one other store in East Washington, built by Andrew J. Cutting about 1870 and known for many years as Cutting's store. It was located close to the Grange but somewhat to the west along East Washington Road across from Cutting's house (now owned by Scott), between the road and the mill pond. Andrew and then his son, Frank, operated it until 1941 when Frank closed it for the duration of the war. It was never reopened and in 1955 was struck by lightning and burned.
Back in Washington, Pearl and "Aunt Molly," as Mary was affectionately known, were doing well at the brick store. There was a post office in the south corner of the large room, with post office boxes making a partial wall. In the winter the ink would sometimes freeze in the inkwell. Pearl could see that gasoline was going to be needed for all the new "horseless carriages" that were appearing and had gas tanks installed, with the sign of the Mobile "flying red horse." A large pot bellied stove in the center of the floor provided heat as well as a place for men to gather, sit, exchange stories and discuss the business of the town and national politics. A "spittoon" was placed beside the stove to accommodate the "chewers" (possibly 4 out of the 8-12 men) and Molly dutifully cleaned it every day, as if she needed more to do! The stove also warmed many cold feet and dried many socks, boots, hats and mittens. There were barrels of potatoes and onions, a big box of dog biscuits on the floor in the corner, a crock of salt pork, big jars of crackers and cookies, dill pickles in a barrel and candies in a glass case. Once the end of the glass got broken and Mary would occasionally catch a small, or not so small, hand reaching in. and when it happened often she would gently correct the offender. There was a cash drawer, never locked, but Mary kept track and control. They usually stocked bacon and in the summer ham to slice. A Seth Thomas clock hung on the wall which had been in East Washington until Mr. Hixson gave it to Pearl Young. It blended nicely with the embossed metal ceiling of the store. Adding to the atmosphere was the glass cheese case with a door which opened in the back so a chunk of cheese could be cut from the large wheel of sharp N.Y. cheddar kept within, probably weighing 20 pounds when new.
Each spring Pearl would oil the floor lightly with new motor oil, thus making it look good and keeping the dust down in the summer. In the "back room" there were nails, screws, paint and grain. There was a ring toss game, which could be set on the floor, with nails in a board and canning jar rubbers to toss over the nails for various score points. There was also a slot machine which paid in nickels, with a pay-off of $5.00. Pearl had it removed when it would have to be licensed. Two meat wagons came to town each week, Dallas Cutter from Hillsborough and Amos Shepherd from Newport, going from home to home. Pearl had to pick up many of the store supplies in Hillsborough at various drop off places as well as the railroad depot.
During the depression the Youngs assisted many in town, which we must remember had a population of less than 200. Some people did have gardens and animals for milk and meat. Nonetheless, when he closed his doors there were still many thousands of dollars in unpaid bills which seemed to have been forgotten. (?) At this time the lumber mills added to the prosperity of Washington and provided employment so Washington was not hurt as badly as many places. Our lumber was, and still is, a renewable resource.
In the summer of 1933, when the bandstand was in need of being rebuilt, Pearl built an extension to his front porch so the band could play there. There was plenty of space for the listeners on the lawn in front of the hotel and he knew it was good for his business too, as he was selling cold drinks, "ginger highballs" made with ginger ale and vanilla ice cream. He had the original soft serve ice cream and hand dipped many cones. The temporary band stand served until 1939 when the new one was built with thanks to contributions from guests at the Lovell Hotel, then owned by Prof. Goodwin.
In the meantime the hotel was going through many changes, first being added onto and only 40 years later being taken down due to lack of use. Pearl Young owned the store but the hotel, which was connected, was being used by vagrants; we knew them as "tramps." Pearl was worried about fires being set by them and went to the Selectmen. One of them in a rather careless manner said if he was worried about it, why didn't he buy the place? It was for sale for back taxes at the time. Pearl went home, thought about it and talked to the man who had put the addition on. He was advised that if he bought the property, he could have it torn down and sell the materials for much more than it would cost him. That is exactly what happened and there is no record of what building materials from the Lovell Hotel might still be in many of the homes and camps that were built in Washington in the 1930s and 1940s. Young's store continued until 1951 as store and post office, with Pearl being the postmaster from 1918 to 1942, and then Mary until 1951.
In 1948 Abner and Marjorie Barker decided to start a store, this one just up the road from where the Brockways had their first store on Half Moon Pond Road. The street end of the large porch was closed in and shelves held staples of cereal, flour, sugar, soups and bread. It wasn't long before more space was needed and a window was removed to make a door into what had been the family dining room. More shelves were built and a deep freeze was added so ice cream could be available along with more grocery items.
In 1951, as the Youngs were closing, the Barkers purchased the old Fred Ball property across the street from Young's store on route 31. They built a 24'X32' log cabin building, opened a store there and moved the family of 7 children into the home next door the week before Christmas of 1951. They operated the store with the help of the children until 1968. Texaco gasoline and a good variety of necessary items were available. The town was still "dry" so there was no problem with the children tending to customers while Marjorie went to pick up supplies if Abner was off on a job for the town (he was selectman and police chief for quite a few years) or heading up a crew building roads for a development coming into town, or cutting hay for the animals that he kept to help feed the family. In the mid-1950s when the town voted that beer could be sold, the law required that someone of legal age had to be on the premises to sell it. Marjorie and Abner decided to retire in 1968 and rented the store and home to the Howell family. The young family tried for a couple of years but were not successful and moved away so the home and store were once again rented. This time the State of NH was helping veterans by stocking the store to a certain dollar amount, filling the gasoline tanks once (two 1000 gal. tanks) and paying the rent for 3 months. What a great hand up! When the Coreys, who had accordingly taken over the store, were not successful (for several not-to-be-mentioned reasons) one spring morning in 1970 the property was found to have been deserted overnight. The Barkers were on a summer trip to Alaska, but daughter Gwen and her husband Jim Gaskell decided to operate the store during the busiest part of each day for the summer. In the fall, when the Barkers returned, the Gaskells made an offer to purchase and through the winter worked on the home weekends to prepare for opening the store in the spring of 1971. The town had 2 developments being built: Island Pond's "Washington Lake" and Ashuelot's "Lake Ashuelot Estates." People were glad to find a local store and soon found that if the Gaskells didn't have a particular item and were asked about it, then within a day or two it could be found there! All supplies had to be picked up at various places in Hillsborough, Concord, Manchester or Claremont since the only items delivered the first few years were soda, beer, potato chips and milk in the summer while Camp Morgan was open. Ice cream had to be carried from Concord in insulated cartons, and strange things could happen to milk and cream in a trailer over bumpy roads. Coming over Lempster Mountain from Claremont was an adventure with flour bags springing open! Finally, membership in the Associated Grocers of New England saved the day, as then everything could be delivered to the door.
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Jim had the foresight to see that more space would be needed and plans were made to add a 32-foot square addition to the side of the building, with a walk-in cooler and many units of shelving. In only a few more years it was necessary to add a hardware room so that pipe for plumbing, fittings, nails, screws, nuts and bolts could be stocked, as well as stove pipes, shovels, rakes, stain and paint, so that it became possible to get almost anything one needed. There was a shelf full of over-the-counter medicines from aspirin and Band- Aids to poison ivy ointments. The original gasoline tanks were no longer big enough as over 16,000 gallons of gasoline were being sold in less than two weeks, so larger tanks were placed in the ground. Camping trailers were occasionally sold outside, as well as boats and refurbished lawn mowers.
The 3 Gaskell children grew up helping in the store and only after
they left home did Gwen and Jim hire help for the summer or during
emergency times. In 1989 the Gaskells sold to the Lofgrens and after
a few years the store was again sold to Jim and Nancy Curran who ran
it for a few years. Subsequently Dan McLure became the owner and in
August of 2008 he leased it, with an option to buy, to Jeremy and
Leslie Delisle, who presently are working hard to make it a success.
Many of our readers may not have heard of the term before, but Webster's New World College Dictionary (© Wiley Publishing) defines the term as "One who collects and studies postcards." We have several deltiologists in our midst. Long-time member Steve Crain of Windham, Maine, is an avid one and specializes in postcards of Washington, NH. His great-great grandfather lived in Washington in the northern reaches of Half Moon Pond Road and is memorialized on the Soldiers' Monument in the center of town as one who gave his life in the service of our country in the 16th NH Volunteers during the Civil War. Steve has a special love for our town. His collection includes over 500 postcards of Washington and East Washington, many of which are contained in our own Museum's collection of over 200 cards which we are constantly striving to increase. Steve's collection can be viewed (and studied, if you are a deltiologist) by going to the website http://picasaweb.google.com/Stephenacrain One of his images was used in preparing the article on the Stores of Washington in this Newsletter issue. In asking for permission to use his images for this newsletter, Steve replied that he invites all or anyone to use his site, saying that he does not "own" the images on the cards but simply wishes "to share them with all who are interested." Here are two more:
|(click on photo to enlarge)||Washington's Main Street, looking east towards the Soldiers' Monument, with the porch of the house next to the General Store on the right. The maple trees have long since disappeared, as has the Lovell House whose porch is visible at the left hand side of the picture.|
|View towards Lovell Mountain from the steeple of the East Washington Baptist Church. Purling Beck Grange Hall is in the foreground near the center of the picture. Hixson's Store is at the bottom left corner to the left of the road, Cutting's Store is on the same side of the road as Hixson's, between the road and the end of the mill pond, about level with the steeple of the Grange Hall.||(click on photo to enlarge)|
Also see Steve's
article about his great-great grandfather in the Civil War in our
spring 2005 newsletter.
Last fall we expected an Old Home Day celebration this summer and alerted you of the dates to plan on. WRONG. At the recent town meeting on March 10th it was voted to have the celebration in 2010 rather than this summer. An appropriation was voted so that deposits could be paid for bands and other groups to hold a date for the town next summer. We will "Remember When" in our displays this season with many signs and pictures of Washington's past.
Early preparations are underway as the local school children will be visiting as they learn about early Washington and New Hampshire. On April 24th we will host a group of Granite State Ambassadors, volunteers who work in the Welcome Centers in the state and at the Manchester airport. We and the barn committee will be proud to show them our museum and barn and give them some history on the town of Washington. A date you may want to remember is May 31st. We are invited to attend a program at the town hall in Unity on the "12th Regiment of NH Volunteers" in the Civil War. The author will be speaking from 2-4 PM
PLEASE be sure to come by to visit the museum and barn this summer to see the changes and new acquisitions. Among them is a copy of the "National Intelligencer, Washington Advertiser" of September 11, 1807, with the name of Reuben Farnsworth as Postmaster written on it. Much of the text is "a more particular account of the proceedings on the trial of Aaron Burr." Late last fall we were given a very old carriage and cradle used in the Farnsworth family and then very recently we acquired photographs and an album of the same family and relatives.
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Last fall we had two lovely old autograph books given to us along with a book of poems from the early 1900s. Autograph books seemed to be very much in style and popular in the later 1800s. These rather small books were a way of collecting sentiments and signatures of friends. We have several in our collection; one belonged to a man, all the others to ladies. The earliest is one of those given to us last fall, with dates from 1843 to 1854, in a book belonging to Paulina Ingalls. The other belonged to Katie L. Crane, with dates from 1878 to 1891, and has some very fancy penmanship and drawings in it.
|The book of poems is entitled "The Wayfarer" and some investigation revealed that the author, Charles E. Walker, grew up in East Washington. He and his twin brother William E. were born in Hillsborough on July 14, 1849. Charles was adopted in infancy, after his mother's death, by Isaac N. Gage of East Washington, where he remained until he was 21. His brother was taken into the family of his grandfather, William T. Fisk, of Webster. Both of them became well educated and ended up working for the same publishing house in Boston for over 30 years. One reference states that Charles "worked as a traveler for a business house in the east." Apparently the writing of poems was a hobby for Charles and the following are two from the "The Wayfarer" which he published in 1921.|
The Walker twins, William and Charles, were 70 years,
July 14, 1919.
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Scan of original tin-type
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After computer enhancement
|Elgin G. Farnsworth and his wife Ida D.|