• Category Archives Not So Long Ago
  • Notable Journalists From New Hampshire

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    As a Laconia High school student in the 1950s, I would occasionally stop at my Dad’s place of employment, the Laconia Evening Citizen office on Beacon Street. As I entered through the front door, and before I turned to the left and went down the stairs to the news room, I often saw in the office straight ahead of me – my dad’s employer and publisher of the newspaper, Edward J. Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher was the founder and owner of the publication with the first edition being published on January 4, 1926. It should be noted that Mr. Gallagher was previously involved from its beginning in producing the Laconia Democrat newspaper. He died in 1978, but the Citizen continued to be published by his daughter Alma and son-in-law Lawrence Smith until 1991, and was published by others until its last edition came out on September 30, 2016.
    Those visits to the Citizen office and my observance of my Dad’s work (even trying to assist him in covering high school football games) allowed me to learn about the steps involved in the publishing of a newspaper. Watching the reporters do their job, the teletype machine printing out the latest news from national sources and the type-setter assemble the letters for the paper and operate the linotype machine. On one occasion I watched as the staff from the newsroom rushed to grab a copy of the day’s first newspapers fresh off the press in order to scan its pages, looking for any errors that could be corrected before the printing process continued.

    Horace Greeley

    The State of New Hampshire has been the birthplace of a number of very influential journalists. One of those was Horace Greeley. Greeley was born on a farm in Amherst on February 3, 1811. As a teenager he went to Vermont as an apprentice printer, and then at the age of twenty made his way to New York . There, in 1934, he founded the New Yorker magazine, followed in 1841 with the founding of the New York Tribune newspaper in 1841, and being its editor for three decades. During his lifetime he belonged to three political parties, first being a Whig, then being one of the founders of the Republican party, and perhaps giving it its name, and afterwards founding the Liberal Republican party. As a member of the latter, he ran for President of the U.S.A., also winning support of the Democrat party, but he was defeated in the election. As editor of the Tribune he had great influence on people around the country, especially in rural areas. Credited by some, and discredited by others, for coining the phrase “ Go west, young man,” he promoted westward expansion. Greeley is also known for strongly opposing slavery, promoting the rights of women and opposing the concentration of wealth among a few ( monopolies). Shortly after the death of his wife and his unsuccessful run for President, Horace Greeley died at the age of sixty-one.
    Horace Greeley’s managing editor at the Tribune from 1847 -1862 was Charles A. Dana who was born in Hinsdale, N.H. on August 8, 1819. Dana served in President Lincoln’s administration as Assistant Secretary of War during the Civil War.
    One of the New Hampshire boys who went west to Chicago was John Wentworth who was born in Sandwich on March 5, 1815. He apparently had a love of farming and considered staying on the farm in Sandwich, but after attending Berwick Academy in Maine and Dudley Leavitt’s “Meredith Academick School” he went to New Hampton Literary Institute from which he graduated. He then went to Dartmouth College, graduating in 1836. (Leavitt was another New Hampshire journalist.) Nicknamed “Long John” because of his 6’6” height, Wentworth became the managing editor of Chicago’s first newspaper, The Chicago Democrat, which led to him becoming the owner and publisher. This journalist became a lawyer and entered the political arena, first as a Democrat and later as a Republican. He was elected for six terms to the U.S. House of Representatives and for two terms as the Mayor of Chicago. Not forgetting his home town, when given the opportunity to change the name of a town in Illinois, the name he selected was Sandwich.
    On May 17, 1864, a baby boy was born to Moses and Emma Chandler in Landaff, New Hampshire, and he was named Harry. As a student at Dartmouth College Harry Chandler responded to a dare by jumping into a vat of starch that had been frozen over which led to him coming down with a severe case of pneumonia. With the goal of improving his health he moved to Los Angeles, California. He started a newspaper delivery service through which he met Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis who hired Chandler as the general manager of the newspaper. Harry married the daughter of his boss and, when Otis died in 1917, he became the publisher of the paper, which became one of the leading newspapers in the country under his leadership. Harry Chandler added real-estate investing and community projects to his publishing vocation and has been described as “…the leading citizen of Los Angeles in the first half of the twentieth century.” He was involved in the building of the famous Hollywood sign.
    The Boston Post newspaper was also founded by a man who was born in New Hampshire. Charles Gordon Greene was born in Boscawen on July 1, 1804, but began his journalistic career in Massachusetts. He worked in several editing, managing and publishing positions there before going to Philadelphia in 1827,where he was involved in starting the National Palladium, and in 1828 was working for the United States Telegraph in Washington D.C. Returning to Boston, Charles Greene founded the Boston Post in 1831 and headed that newspaper until 1875. Belonging to the Democrat party he served in the Massachusetts Legislature.
    The one thing that I find most interesting that all these journalists had in common was they not only reported and commented on the news of their day, but were personally involved in the political process and accepting elected positions in government.


  • Childhood Memories Of Christmas In New Hampshire

     

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    A year ago this column was about a memorable, unusual Christmas that involved a serious illness my father experienced and the generous support our family received from neighbors and other friends.
    Because Christmas is a gift that keeps on giving every year, I have additional memories, some of which I decided to share this year.
    At the country one-classroom school I attended for the first six years of public education, we had yearly Christmas programs at a special evening time when relatives and friends were invited to be entertained by the pupils. My memory takes me back to a snowy winter’s night with big fluffy flakes falling but failing to keep the annual Christmas program from happening at the Hanaford School in New Hampton. The tree would have been decorated with ornaments made by the boys and girls. I recall particularly the scissors, colored construction paper, and glue that were made into paper chains to hang upon the classroom tree. Back in those days we sometimes even made our own glue with flour and water. The program itself included recitations, carols and perhaps a play. The one I remember being a version of

    Dicken’s Christmas Carol featuring Tiny Tim and a make-believe goose. The session would end with the arrival of Santa Claus, who would pass out decorated candy boxes filled with hard candies. I have never forgotten an outside event, either before or after the inside festivities when David Caverhill, the big upper classman, decided to pick me up and hold me high from the ground in the falling snow. He was so tall he must have been in the eighth grade, and I so small I must have been in the first. I was happy and scared at the same time, pleased that the big guy was paying attention to me while thinking “surely he is just having fun and won’t do anything to hurt me” still there was some uncertainty in my mind as to what he was up to. I soon felt that he was a kind guy and meant me no harm, still, I felt somewhat safer when he finally set me down on my feet.
    Our family had the practice of going out into the woods on our farm to find a Christmas tree, which was a challenge because, even though there were many trees, there were few that would meet the requirements for an acceptable Christmas tree, so the search went on until there was agreement that we had found the right one. A wooden stand had to be fashioned and the selected tree was set up in the sitting room the day before the one celebrating the birth of Jesus.
    Christmas shopping was another of the anticipatory activities before the big day arrived. I usually had a little money to use for presents for my parents and five siblings. The nickel and dime stores offered the logical place to find the gifts and I don’t remember having much difficulty finding a little something for the brothers and sister, but it was a different story when it came to Daddy and Mother. (Mother was always called Mother, not a variation of the title.) When I was old enough to do my shopping by myself, I recall going back and forth between Woolworths and Newberry’s in Laconia, seeking an appropriate present for Mother and Father that my money could buy, always wondering if I could find something that would make them happy. I might wander a little to other stores and discover items that I would like to have, realizing that most of my wants involved items that would be too expensive for our family’s resources. I was impressed by the electric train set displayed in the window of the hardware store and wished to have more time to enjoy watching it run around the tracks, but knew better than to ask to receive that item as a Christmas gift.
    A child’s anticipation of Christmas may have a greater impression on their lives as the day itself. My favorite spot on Christmas Eve, if I could claim it before a sibling did, was the chair in the corner beside the sitting (living) room wood stove – the warmest spot in the house. The tree was lighted with a string of colored lights with bulbs that were larger than most of those used today. Some of the presents were wrapped and under the tree and there were the thoughts of wondering which were mine and what was inside the wrappings, but, even with the anticipation of opening presents the next morning, I would become somewhat melancholy and meditative, thinking of people who would not have the same happy Christmas that I had. I was not thinking of anyone in particular; I just understood that there were people “out there” who were not having a Merry Christmas and wished I could do something to change that situation. Christmas morning was always one of great excitement with the first activity being that of discovering the contents of the stockings which were hung behind the kitchen stove on the clothesline usually used for drying purposes. The contents always included an orange, which was a treat for us, and hard candies, along with other items. Additional presents were under the tree, but before these could be opened breakfast had to be completed and the dishes washed and the morning chores of feeding the animals, milking the cow and filling the kitchen and sitting room wood boxes had to be completed. Then, not with a mad rush, but in a deliberate and orderly manner, the presents were removed from under the tree and given to the named recipients.
    I could continue with many other Christmas memories including the traditional dinner with a rooster or two from our chicken house and the usual fixings and some special Christmases as an adult, but I will conclude this discourse by quoting from an editorial of a December 25, 1944 in Life magazine. I was six years old and the United States of America was fighting in World War II. Since early childhood I was made aware that Christmas was to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Savior and Messiah.
    The Life editorial began “Now when the birthday of Jesus Christ came to be celebrated in America in the days of President Roosevelt, there lived in that country a simple man named Arthur, who believed that Christmas should be a time of joy. For had not a Redeemer been sent to bring men peace and goodwill, and to save them from their sins?”


  • Church And State In Colonial NH

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Captain John Mason, who obtained a grant for land in what is now New Hampshire, can be credited with giving the state its name.
    Mason lived in the County of Hampshire in England and named the land granted to him as a new Hampshire. The first English settlers in the new land were Protestant Christians and the New Hampshire settlements that became what are considered the state’s first four towns did not try to separate church and town government. Those towns are currently named Portsmouth, Dover, Exeter, and Hampton.
    Settlements were established on the river called Pascataqua by the Company of Laconia in 1623, one called Strawberry Bank (Portsmouth), and the other called Northam (Dover). Charles B. Kinney, Jr., in his book Church and State, The Struggle for Separation in New Hampshire- 1630 – 1900, published in 1955, says “Among the four towns, two, Hampton and Exeter, were organized as church organizations. The other two, Dover and Portsmouth, had much more confused beginnings.”

    Historic marker designating where Rev. Stephen Bachiler made first settlement.

    Still, even though they seemed to follow to some extent the laws they were use to in England each town appears to have been virtually self-governing with the church leaders involved in making the rules. George Barstow in his History of New Hampshire, published in 1842, tells us that Dover and Portsmouth were “…divided into two distinct communities and were familiarly called the Upper and Lower Plantations. They were subject to different regulations, were carried on under different auspices, and were afterwards two distinct governments, like independent states.” Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • Remembering 4-H Club

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Girl Scouts are known for their cookies, but at one time there were also 4-H Club cookies, available in vanilla or chocolate flavors and described as delicious wafer thin sugar cookies. Each package weighed nine ounces and contained three dozen cookies. Apparently much more recently some 4-H Clubs have sold cookies for animals. I am not qualified to write about today’s 4-H clubs, but am able to relate some of what it was like to belong to the 4-H around the middle of the 1900s and how the organization helped the state’s rural youth develop good work and moral standards.
    Our 4-H Hustler’s Boy’s Club in New Hampton was small, consisting of a half dozen to a dozen or so members, depending on the year. We lived in a rural area and the meetings were held in the homes of the members or the adult club leader, who, for most of the years I was part of the club, was Leonard Huckins of our town. The beginning of what would become 4-H Clubs is credited with the initiative of an A.B. Graham in Clark County, Ohio, who started youth clubs called either “Tomato Club” or “Corn Growing Club.” During the same year (1902) school agriculture clubs were begun in Douglas County, Minnesota. The clover pin with an H on each leaf made its appearance in 1910 and the youth agriculture clubs were first called 4-H Clubs in 1912. The four H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health, emphasizing the organization’s interest in having a positive influence on every area of a young person’s life. In 1914 the Cooperative Extension System at the United States Department of Agriculture was established and since 1924 4-H Clubs were officially formed with the clover emblem and have been under the oversight of universities and county offices around the nation.

    remembering-4-h-club-002

    Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • Not Just Another Chicken

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

     

    Taken during the 10th Annual Agricultural Tour Horace Ballard, Belknap County Agriculture Agent; Frank Neal, Peoples National Bank, Laconia; Leon Merrill, Concord National Bank; Thomas Danko, Assistant Merrimack County Agent; Richard Parkman, Concord National Bank; Paul Fenton, Merrimack County Agent; George Dane, Mechanics National Bank, Concord; John Hardin, New Hampshire Savings Bank, Concord; Bazlur Rehman Patwari, International Farm Youth Exchange delegate from Pakistan; Arthur Woodman, Peoples National Bank, Laconia; and Clifford Eastman, Gilford (poultryman).
    Taken during the 10th Annual Agricultural Tour Horace Ballard, Belknap County Agriculture Agent; Frank Neal, Peoples National Bank, Laconia; Leon Merrill, Concord National Bank; Thomas Danko, Assistant Merrimack County Agent; Richard Parkman, Concord National Bank; Paul Fenton, Merrimack County Agent; George Dane, Mechanics National Bank, Concord; John Hardin, New Hampshire Savings Bank, Concord; Bazlur Rehman Patwari, International Farm Youth Exchange delegate from Pakistan; Arthur Woodman, Peoples National Bank, Laconia; and Clifford Eastman, Gilford (poultryman).

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Why did the chicken cross the Rhode? Rhode Island, that is. The answer: To get to New Hampshire to experience a transformation .
    attachment-00028It has been described as a recent addition to the breeds of chicken, but its origin goes back to at least 1910 though it was not officially added to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection lists until 1935. It is the bird named after New Hampshire, which was first, and sometimes still is, referred to as the New Hampshire Red, but now more commonly simply called the New Hampshire.
    Initial development of the New Hampshire from the Rhode Island Red was possibly done by experimenters in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but it was New Hampshire poultrymen who apparently made it feasible to market the bird commercially and establish its name. According to the book “New England Comes Back” by Lawrence Dame (1940) it wasn’t until around 1917 that Professor A.W. “Red” Richardson of the University of New Hampshire “did a large-scale development start.” New Hampshire researchers worked to eradicate the disease named pullorum to make such large-scale production possible. Lawrence Dame reported that at the time he wrote his book New Hampshire boasted “…that its flocks are the cleanest in the world.” The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture has said that from 1930 to 1950 New Hampshire led the world in poultry production. Poultry farming seems to have continued to be strong into the fifties and sixties based on information I found in an undated press report by extension poultryman Richard Warren. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • Boyhood Memories-Autumn

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

     

    The Hanaford one classroom school in New Hampton.
    The Hanaford one classroom school in New Hampton.

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    No fair for me, and that was no fair to me. October 12th was Columbus Day. Every year it was Columbus Day, and every year on October 12th Sandwich Fair was held. I couldn’t attend the Sandwich Fair because New Hampton school children were required to go to school on that holiday unless it fell on a weekend, and I did not think that was fair. As the day approached the then one day fair was the talk of the town, and I spent the day in school wishing I could be at the Fair. The only consolation was that at an earlier date I had been able to attend Plymouth Fair. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school, and I can still remember walking with my siblings down the dirt road one-fourth of a mile for my very first day of school, but there are other autumn memories to share, so I will leave school for a moment.
    Fall or autumn is considered the season of harvest, and that was true for my family when it came to potatoes, dried beans, pumpkins, squash, turnips, carrots, beets, grapes, apples, and wood. My Dad would sometimes hoe around the potatoes in the summertime barefooted because he liked the feel of the warm, sandy soil on his feet. I still have the special potato digging tool we used to lift the potatoes from the ground, leaving them in the sun to dry before placing them in bushel baskets or burlap feed bags and on to the potato bin in the cellar for winter storage. Carrots, beets, and apples were also stored in the cellar. I still remember a Saturday night boys 4-H meeting (the Hustlers) held in our living room when older cousin Kenneth Torsey illustrated by the use of his hands the large size of the potatoes grown in his garden. Peculiar shapes as well as size were traits we looked for in the potatoes we dug. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • Ambition Gone Awry

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

     

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    A young man’s actions in the city of Laconia, New Hampshire in the year 1906 might be described as ambition gone awry, credit without credence, how not to start a business, the evil of impersonation, or the downfall of a slick swindler.
    The story is that a young man arrived at the Lakeside House at the Weirs on June 22, 1906 where he apparently registered as H.G. Whittemore. After paying his bill the following Monday he moved to the Hotel Weirs where he made his headquarters during his short-lived business activities in the area. Mr. Whittemore was described by the Laconia Democrat newspaper as “…a young man of pleasing personality , well educated and a smooth talker. Since his arrival at the Weirs he has been quite prominent socially, appearing among the guests daily in several suits of clothes, one of which he obtained from the clothing house of George B. Munsey of Lakeport on credit.” The paper went on to identify the man as being “…about 25 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 150 pounds, has brown hair, blue eyes and smooth face.” It just occurred to me that the description of his appearance sounds like me at that age ( though I wasn’t around then), but not the portrayal of his actions.
    weirshotel Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • The Class of 1956

     

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    _DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Recently I found a half dozen or so of my grandchildren all sitting on the same swing and, as I began to exhort them about the possible dangers of their action, they informed me that they had set a world record for having the most people on one swing. We live in a day when people seem to take great pleasure in “making history” by accomplishing something that has never been done before. So I made personal history in 1956. I graduated from high school! From Laconia High School, right here in New Hampshire. Let me tell you about that class of sixty years ago.

    Yearbook cover of the 1956 “Lakon” of Laconia High School.
    Yearbook cover of the 1956 “Lakon” of Laconia High School.

    First, let me point out that in writing this I followed the advice of my Journalism teacher, William Morrison, by not starting a story with “the”. “a”, or “an”. Furthermore, I will endeavor to heed the instruction of English teacher, Richard Benshimol and “get away from get” by not using that word again in this account of the class of 1956. I probably wouldn’t remember that if Mr. Benshimol, also Class Sponsor, had not made us write down in a notebook his rules for the use of English . Moreover, because I still have my Chemistry notes, I can tell you that Howard Wagner guided us in beginning experiments he labeled water to wine, making rubber, a flash of light, colored fire, and spontaneous combustion. All of our teachers were very important in our learning process and thus really a part of our high school class.
    Though the classes in different subjects were the most important part of our schooling, LHS offered many opportunities for extra-curricular activities for those meeting eligibility requirements, meaning they were available, but not required or guaranteed. I say not guaranteed because one year I decided I would try out for the Junior Varsity baseball team with the hope that the coach would notice some undeveloped potential that would land me on the team, but after a day or two of practice my name was not among those listed to return for further practice sessions. My extra-curricular activities were mostly limited to being a spectator while many of my classmates excelled in numerous activities. Though being a student from “out of town”, circumstances enabled me to attend many of the football and basketball games. Jim Casey and Dean Leighton were co-captains of the basketball team for the 1955-56 season coached by Mr. Watson.
    Class officers for the LHS class of 1956 were President Richard Perley, Vice-President Lawrence Simoneau, Secretary Beverly Fay, and Treasurer Normand Lacasse. Representing the class on the Student Council were Charlie Clark, Helen King, Artie Perdikis, and Penny Pitou (yes, the Olympic skier). According to the school newspaper, The Lakonian, in its Feb. 29, 1956 issue, three members of the class of 1956 were among those qualifying to participate in the National Speech Tournament in Muskogee, Oklahoma. They were Norma Morin, William Bisson, and Wilburn Sims. The class was well represented by some Future Farmers of America members, including John Hodsdon in State Speaking Contests and Ralph Scribner (1956 FFA President) and Ray Hayes (Vice-President) who were awarded prizes for exhibits at the Eastern States Exhibition.
    Memories that come back of Laconia High School include the bells ringing to announce the end and beginning of classes, the walks through the halls with the Traffic Squad making sure the proper procedures are kept, going through the tunnel to the cafeteria in the building used by the classes involved with industrial arts, and my mechanical drawing class in that building. I recall the occasional assemblies for the whole student body, a welcome break from a class during that time, the study halls in the cafeteria when lunch was not being served, and the gym or physical education classes, including the tumbling (gymnastics, I guess), along with the outdoor sessions of touch football and the one time I carried the ball on a kickoff and returned it for a number of yards though neglecting to follow the blockers ahead of me. I remember making new friends, even though I was probably the shyest guy in the class, so shy that I was even passed over in the superlatives of 1956 under the shyest members of the class. There was the fellow student who sat beside me in Mr. Crowther’s biology class who talked me into playing some kind of penny flipping game, a game which ended when I realized I was losing all my pennies to him. It has been only a few years since I’ve reconnected with the class and would like to acknowledge the recent leadership of Cecily Ballou, and current Reunion Committee members Bev Robinson, Joyce Olsen. Bruce Papps, Saralee Wheeler, Norm Lacasse, Paula Moore, Bev Francoeur, Charlotte Bagley, Mary Jones, and Bob King. Note: I’ve used last names as they were in 1956.
    Being a sports enthusiast in high school also allowed one to appreciate the talents shown by the band, directed by Bernard Williams, and the cheerleaders, which during the 1955-6 year included two pairs of twins and winning First Place in the Manchester Union Cheerleading contest. I can almost hear the chants and cheers filling the gymnasium and the yell to “Go Sachems!”
    School Superintendent Rhoden Eddy wrote in the 1956 Lakon (the yearbook) that “ The interest manifested in ‘school spirit’ by the Laconia High School student body this year stirs me deeply. My feelings are a warm mixture of gratification- of elation – of hope.” The Yearbook was dedicated to Principal Donald F. Piper who was called the “Dad” of the student body. I had great respect for Mr. Piper. In concluding his message to the class of 1956 Mr. Piper quoted the admonition to “Live among men as if God beheld you; speak to God as if men were listening.”
    Class of 1956 President Richard L. Perley wrote, “These good things that we have and are now experiencing will lead us on to better and more interesting things, while the old ones are set aside to look back upon whenever we wish. ” The Class of 1956 is gathering together on Saturday, September 17th , setting aside that day to look back and remember.


  • A President Visits The “North Country”

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    _DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    When the President of the United States takes a vacation it is bound to arouse the curiosity of the people of the country, and when his destination is the State of New Hampshire, you can be sure it won’t go unnoticed by its citizens.
    President Warren Harding chose Lancaster, in New Hampshire’s north country, as his August, 1921, vacation location. Thanks to an account of that trip published in the Boston Globe newspaper on August fifth of that year and other sources I can pass on some details of his vacation.
    President Harding’s specific destination was the home of Secretary of War John W. Weeks on Mount Prospect. Actually, the Globe article said that the President’s trip would not be called a vacation but “…a period of recreation in the life of one of the busiest men of the country.” He travelled to Portland, Maine, on the Presidential yacht, Mayflower, after a stop at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and then went by automobile the 140 miles to Lancaster.

    President Warren Harding (right) with his Secretary of War John Weeks at Weeks’ home in New Hampshire.
    President Warren Harding (right) with his Secretary of War John Weeks at Weeks’ home in New Hampshire.

    Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • The Chief, His Daughter & Her Lover

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    _DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    The main characters in more than one native American legend are a powerful tribal chief, his beautiful maiden daughter, and a young, brave chief or warrior from a different tribe. Such is the case concerning the legend of the naming of Lake Winnipesaukee.
    Some of our readers may have heard the story more times than they care to remember, but there are probably others who are reading it for the first time. I have read the story from a number of different sources and find that there are two versions, the only major difference being the names given to the principal characters.
    Long ago, long before the intruders came and surrounded the Lake with their dwellings and filled it with their boats, a powerful Indian chief named Ahanton (Wonaton) ruled over a tribe occupying the land bordering the northern shores of the big lake. Chief Ahanton had a beautiful maiden daughter named Ellacoya (Mineola) who had many suitors, but none whom she found desirable enough to become his bride. A young chief named Kona (Adiwando), from a rival tribe occupying the shores on the southern side of the lake, Legend of Winnipesaukee 002heard about the beautiful Ellacoya and bravely set out by himself in his canoe to find the girl. It so happened that when he arrived at the camp of the northern tribe, Chief Ahanton was away with some of his warriors to settle a dispute with another tribe. Upon seeing the courage of Kona the remaining tribal members allowed him to stay with them and to court the chief’s daughter. As might be expected Kona and Ellacoya fell in love, but, when Ahanton suddenly returned from his trip he was furious to find the young chief of the tribe to the south residing in his camp. In anger he grabbed his tomahawk and was about to strike Kona when Ellacoya stepped between the two of them and pleaded with her father to spare the life of Kona. Not able to deny the request of his daughter, Ahanton did not harm the young chief, and even eventually gave his permission for the two lovers to be wed. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • The Unknown Soldier Identified

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    _DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Two thousand nine hundred and ten New Hampshire residents who served in the Union forces during the Civil War were unaccounted for at the end of the conflict. This is the story of one who was almost the 2,911th.
    Lieutenant W.A. Nason of the Eleventh N.H. Volunteer Regiment, remembered the morning of July 1, 1864 as “…one of the brightest and clearest one could imagine or ask for..” as he prepared for his duties, when he met the ward-master in charge “of the pavilion where the wounded officers were quartered”. The ward-master persuaded Lieutenant Nason to accompany him in visiting some wounded officers, explaining that even with the suffering they were enduring they were happy to have visitors. After visiting with several of the wounded he was taken to two brothers from Maine who had not realized that the other was wounded until they met in that hospital ward (apparently this was at De Camp United States General Hospital on David’s Island in New York Harbor).

    Hiram Kinsman Little
    Hiram Kinsman Little

    Lieutenant Nason had been a patient at the hospital because of illness, but had recovered sufficiently to be assigned to light duty at the headquarters of the hospital, and had recently returned from a furlough in New Hampshire. One of the Maine brothers had lost an arm and the other a leg; however, they were still caring for their comrades, and pointed across the ward to a soldier being attended by some nurses who was the object of much curiosity because no one knew who he was. The soldier’s wounds had left him unable to talk or write and he carried no identification. It was not known if he was a Union soldier or a rebel, whether he was a private or an officer, or any detail about the man as he lay almost completely paralyzed and suffering in silence.
    Lieutenant Nason said “Passing along to where the stranger was lying, and looking down upon the thin, pale face, his eyes closed as if in death, to my intense surprise I recognized the well known features of my friend and comrade Lieutenant Little.” Sitting beside his severely wounded friend, the Lieutenant spoke his name, upon which Little opened his eyes. Lieutenant Little nodded his head when asked if he knew who his fellow officer was, indicating that he did. During the next couple of days Lieutenant Nason notified authorities of his surprising discovery and took steps to have relatives notified, while spending time at the Lieutenant’s bedside in an effort to encourage and comfort him. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • Mister Potter’s Place

    Potter Place 008

     

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    _DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

     

    Hearing the name “Potter’s Place” and occasionally riding by it ( I say ‘by’ rather than ‘through’ because you are in and out quickly when driving) in my younger years my thoughts were probably imagining someone at some past time making pottery in that place. In reality the place is named after a man who had an entirely different and uncommon occupation, especially for the era in which he lived ( 1783 -1835).
    Richard Potter was a magician and ventriloquist who put on shows in various locations in the early days of the United States of America. He is said to be the first professional in both of the skills named above to be born in America, so he does have a place in history both as a magician –ventriloquist and because of the honor bestowed on him by having his name attached to a location on the map of New Hampshire. Mr. Potter was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to a ‘slave’ or ‘servant’, depending on which source you read, named Dinah. She was a member of the estate of Sir Charles Henry Frankland who had been a British tax collector in the Port of Boston. Potter Place 009
    The identity of Potter’s father seems to be unknown, though several men have been named as suspects. Sir Frankland has been listed as the father, but he is said to have died fifteen years before Richard was born, ruling him out. Some think that Frankland’s son is the father. Church records from Hopkinton are said to name his father as George Simpson. Others have suggested it was a Henry Cromwell. Potter is reported to have claimed both Sir Frankland and Benjamin Franklin as his father, though facts seem to prove that neither could be true. I have found no source indicating where the name Potter came from, so maybe we can guess that that was his mother’s last name or that the father was actually an unknown man to us with the last name of Potter. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • Old Home Day – A NH Tradition

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    _DSC2528by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    August is traditionally Old Home Day month across New Hampshire. This week our history columnist Robert Hanaford Smith explains where this unique New Hampshire tradition comes from.

    When New Hampshire Governor Frank Rollins came up with a scheme “…to have a week in summer, set apart, to be called Old Home Week and make it an annual affair”, he was actually asking all New Hampshire towns to sponsor an event that a few towns had been conducting for years, though most seem to have limited their observance to a day or two rather than a whole week.

     

    W.H. Swett’s team waits on Glendon Street in Wolfeboro for the start of the 1901 Old Home Day Parade.
    W.H. Swett’s team waits on Glendon Street in Wolfeboro for the start of the 1901 Old Home Day Parade.

    The small town of Middleton reportedly began its Old Home Day in the year 1866. Its observance continues each year, not on a Saturday or Sunday, but on a Wednesday, following that town’s tradition. The town of Cornish’s event was titled “Old People’s Visit” for many years after its beginning in 1877, when Rev. and Mrs. James T. Jackson invited 18 elderly people to visit at the parsonage on August 17th of that year. The next year the number of visitors is said to have increased to seventy-five and the event was held at the Congregational Church. This year’s event was held on July 30th at the same church building of the 1878 meeting on Center Road though it is now titled “Old Home Day”. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • The Plymouth State Fair

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    _DSC2528by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Late summer and early fall is Agricultural Fair season in New Hampshire, but the fair I looked forward to attending as a child and teenager and is imbedded in my memory is no longer on the list. It is no more and is relegated to the realm of history; however, it is worth remembering.
    That is the Plymouth State Fair which had graduated from being the Union Grange Fair. This at one time popular fair, which was advertised as being the oldest one in New Hampshire, was held in late August or September and was a major event in central New Hampshire.
    My family’s preparation for the fair began a day or two before the actual several days of the event because we exhibited vegetables and other items involved with our 4-H Club and Grange projects. The exhibits were judged and the exhibitors were awarded ribbons and premiums (money) corresponding with the grade received with the goal of receiving a grade A and a blue ribbon. Our vegetable offerings had to be harvested and examined in an effort to present the best we produced. So the first stop at the Fair was the day before opening day to deliver the items to be judged. The first stop at the Fair once it began, though often a quick one, was to find out what color ribbons had been placed on our exhibits. Continue reading  Post ID 2540


  • When The Circus Was Really A Big Show

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    _DSC2528by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Summertime!
    That used to be the season for the circus to stop by in New Hampshire. One did not expect the show with exotic animals from Africa or other tropical locations to schedule a winter or even an early spring or late fall appearance, nor did one expect The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus to set up their tent in a small New England town location, but around here a circus was a circus and offered a special attraction, even a “small” circus.
    circus posters 001

    The promotional material for the Jones Brothers Show, a “BIG THREE RING WILD ANIMAL CIRCUS” appearing in Laconia,New Hampshire on June 22, 1915 promised circus-goers a show that was anything but small.
    Where was it held? Where else but the Pearl Street Grounds? That’s where I attended my last circus with some of my grandchildren.
    The Jones Brothers Circus was advertised as “the most complete circus now traveling”. It was the year 1915 and this was “the big circus”! How big? This is how the Laconia Democrat newspaper described the coming event: “Watch for the wonderful parade- a mile long. See the open cages of wild animals; see the herds of elephants, droves of camels, leopards and grizzly bears, Bengal tigers, hyenas, wolves, zebra, and the horned horse…comprising a one hundred thousand dollar menagerie. See the long line of superb horses – the finest in the land.” The newspaper article went on by beginning five sentences with the phrase “This is the show…”, calling the show the one that is without a rival, that travels in its own steel trains, carries a whole village of people, and covers twelve acres of canvas. It stated it had ten thousand seats and boasted that the public always filled them. The horses received special recognition, having “ … the greatest high school and posing horses…high jumping champion horses imported from Ireland ” along with “…the most intrepid bareback riders, and the most fearless ladies and gentlemen riders.”
    But that wasn’t all. The horses seemed to be featured, but there were other animal acts and the expected human performers.
    My quick search for a circus that might be coming to New Hampshire this summer met with no success, though apparently the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus made an appearance in Manchester in May. Circuses have encountered protestors who object to the use and treatment of animals. That is certainly one of the reasons for the decline in the popularity of the circus, but, additionally, there are probably a number of competing entertainment events that were not around in 1915.
    Then, as now, the specific acts could vary from circus to circus, maybe from performance to performance (certainly interest could be increased by promising an act never done in public before), but the aerial acts seem to be a necessary component of the event. So the Jones Brothers offered “…an army of aerialists in daring and difficult feats while flying in mid-air, and a sensational array of acrobatics, Royal Japanese wrestlers, tumblers, leapers, high divers, exponents of strength, shown in a startling performance of two Jiu Jitsu…”.
    Another indispensable part of a circus is the involvement of the clowns, and the Jones Brothers Show claimed to have forty of them, along with beautiful dancing girls, and, to add to the excitement, chariot races.
    Did you ever attend such a circus with three big rings, and so much to see? I have not and none of us who haven’t probably never will, because there will probably never be another one like it. But if you had been around on Tuesday, June 22nd, 1915, one hundred and one years ago, and happened to be in or near Laconia, NH, you could have watched the parade for free at 10am as it traveled down the streets and then you could be admitted to the big tent located at the Pearl Street Grounds at 2pm or 8pm for one of the big performances of the day.
    The admission price was reportedly reduced to 25 and 35 cents to see it all.
    Those must have been the “ good old days”,or maybe not if you were one of the elephants with a long memory, or you were a kid without 25 cents.
    And I do wonder about that horned horse.

    Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr. lives in New Hampton.