Brief History | Physical
Description of the Town
Early Settlers, Early Businesses, Churches, etc.
Business & Manufacturing after 1900 |
Merrimack in Wartime
Other Merrimack History Links
"Let us look backward for a moment and picture if we can,
the conditions that existed two hundred and more years ago; when
the white People first began to creep up these river valleys.
No History records the account of any earlier settlers than the
Indians and their origin has never quite been determined."
-- Mattie Kilborn Webster, historian for
the 1946 Bicentennial
[Also SEE the 1946 Bicentennial Celebration
of Merrimack NH]
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF MERRIMACK NH
from the following sources:
- The Nashua Telegraph, June 22, 1946 - edited
- History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; Philadelphia:
J.W. Lewis & Co., 1885, 878 pgs.
- History of the old township of Dunstable : Nashua, Nashville,
Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, and Merrimac, N.H., Dunstable and Tyngsborough,
Mass., by Charles J. Fox; Nashua N.H.: C.T. Gill, 1846, 298 pgs.
- "Merrimack by the River," article in Granite State Magazine;
Vol II, October 1906.
The first mention of the territory (containing the current town
of Merrimack NH)
among written records was the petition of Passaconnaway
to the General Court of Massachusetts for a grant of land to include
a part of this region. This was in 1662, and in the autumn of that
year the court acceded to this reasonable request, and the aged
sachem and his associates were granted a strip of country a mile
and a half wide on both banks of the Merrimack at this section of
the river. Although the boundaries of this grant are not specifically
known today, it is probable that the chieftain held at least a portion
of the current town of Merrimack.
early as 1672, Capt. Jonathan Tyng and a handful of associates felled the first
tree along what was then looked upon as the "Upper Merrimack" and made
the clearing for the little settlement about Salmon Brook. From this adventurous
beginning grew the township of Old Dunstable.
(also known as "Merrymac" and "Merrimac" in some old records),
New Hampshire was originally a part of old Dunstable township. Its Native American
name was "Naticook."
Dunstable, in the early days consisted
of more than 200 square miles, including the present towns of Nashua, Nashville,
Hudson, Hollis, along with Dunstable and Tyngsborough MA; and in addition, PORTIONS
of the present towns of Amherst, Milford, Merrimack, Litchfield, Londonderry,
Pelham, Brookline, Pepperell and Townsend.
In the winter of 1703-1704,
Capt. William Tyng, a son of the founders of Dunstable, made his famous "Snow-shoe
expedition" against the Indians, passing up the west bank of the river and
through what is now the territory of the town of Merrimack.
In the month of September, 1724, at a time when the Indians were
particularly aggressive, Two men, by the names of Nathan Cross
Blanchard, while engaged in the manufacture of turpentine,
were surprised and captured by the Indians. Their friends living
at the little settlement on the south bank of the Nashua River,
looked in vain for them at nightfall, became alarmed and a part
of ten started in quest of them. This band of scouts were themselves
waylaid by the Naticook Brook, near Thornton's Ferry, and only
one man, Lieutenant Farwell, escaped with his life. In the same
year Mr. William Lund of Dunstable
was taken prisoner and carried to Canada. He was ransomed soon
after and returning to this vicinity he was attracted by its natural
features to become one of the first settlers of the town. He built
his house near an oak tree which had witnessed the death of one
of the ten scouts mentioned. It is related that his estimable
wife obtained the money to ransom him from his enemies in Canada
by converting her property into a sum amounting to five hundred
livres, which she forwarded for his redemption. Afterwards she
used to claim with good reason that "she owned him, as she
had bought him."
1725, John Chamberlain "of Groton"
[who later lived in Merrimack] is listed among the famous Lovewell's
party to Fryeburg, ME, where John Chamberlain was famous for killing the Indian,
early as 1656 a tract of land south of the Naticook had been granted to William
Brenton by the Massachusetts General Court, whence the name "Brenton's Farm,"
formerly given to the southern part of Merrimack. In 1728, Brenton's heirs, and
others who had purchased a share in the grant, organized and took measures for
opening it up for settlement, and new clearings were rapidly made in various directions.
July, 1729, the lands lying north of the Souhegan, three miles in width, were
granted to Joseph Blanchard and others.
the inhabitants on the northerly side of the Nashua River petitioned to be set
off also with "Brenton's Farm," but the petition was not granted by
the town. In 1733, however, part of the town lying west of Merrimack River was
incorporated by the General Assembly into a township by the name of Rumford, but
soon after was called "Merrimac."
1734 the General Court of Massachusetts granted a town organization
called Naticook, which seems to have included Litchfield
as well as the southern part of Merrimack, and for twelve
years the people on both sides of the river elected town officers
in common, erected the old meeting-house in Litchfield, and secured
the services of Joshua Tufts, of Newbury, who left in 1744.
1741 when the boundary line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was settled,
it placed this area in New Hampshire.
1746 a group of some 300 settlers desired to be set apart from the larger grant.
Therefore, they petitioned King George of England "that they be incorporated
into a township and enfranchised with the same powers and privileges other towns
in the province enjoyed." The petition being granted, they were given
a charter April 2, 1746. The town was called Merrimack for the river upon which
it is situated.
copy of the first town meeting on March 4, 1746 includes the names
of Capt. Jonathan Cumings (moderator);
Phinehas Underwood (Town Clerk);
Phinehas Underwood, Mr.
John Usher, Mr. Zechariah Stearns
(Selectmen), William Datton (Constable), Ephraim Powers ("Tithinman"),
Jonas Barrat ("Savaier" of Highways [sic Surveyor]),
William Lund and Jonathan
Powers (Field Drivers), James Karr and Timothy
Underwood (Fence "Veears") [sic Viewers]. It was
signed by Joseph Blanchard,
Justice of the Peace.
1750 we find the settlers were dissatisfied with their holdings. They sent another
petition to the King asking that an addition of land be given to them, saying
"that they had found the land very mean and ordinary and incapable of supporting
such a number of inhabitants as will enable them to support a town without a further
addition of land and inhabitants." The second petition was also granted and
the present boundaries of the town were fixed. At that time the surveyor's report
indicated that the center of the town was at "a marked tree, on a knoll,
about thirty rods southerly from Turkey Hill bridge."
1751 it was decided to build a meeting-house in the center of town. It stood at
the corner of Turkey Hill Road and Meeting House Road.
Until 1872 the old meeting-house continued to be used as the townhouse. It
burned in 1896. The west wing of Merrimack's current town hall was built in 1872
and a municipal building on Baboosic Road.
In 1756 the population of the
town was less than three hundred.
In 1767 the first census was taken, showing
three hundred persons, young and old, living in the town, three of whom were slaves.
October 14, 1772, the first minister was settled in town, the Rev.
Jacob Burnap [also see below Church History].
1773, all these grants lying north of Penichuck Brook, and including a part of
Narragansett No. 5, or Amherst (granted to the soldiers of Philip's war) were
incorporated into a township, at first called Souhegan East; then Rumford, and
1777 the town-meeting was called in the name of the government
and people of the State of New Hampshire. In 1778 the Articles
of Confederation were approved of by vote of the town and their
representative was instructed to vote to instruct the New Hampshire
delegate in Congress to vote for the same. Samuel Hutchinson was
elected to represent the town in the Constitutional Convention
which met at Concord. In 1781, Simeon
Cummings was elected delegate to the convention, and the constitution
that had been formed was adopted with some modifications.
1777 it was voted to erect stocks and a whipping post.
1808 the care of the poor, which had for many years devolved upon the selectmen,
was disposed of by selling them to the lowest bidder, and this ... practice was
continued for several years. In 1815 it required fifteen hundred dollars to support
the poor. In 1835 a poor farm was purchased, as a more humane and economical method
of caring for the poor, and in the following year it was voted to make it a house
of correction also. The town farm was managed by an agent appointed by the town
until 1868, when it was sold and the poor were ordered to be cared for by the
selectmen, with the proviso that no one should be carried to the county farm prior
to his wish.
3, 1846 the town celebrated its one hundredth year of the town's corporated existence.
Robert McGaw was the president of the day; Nathan Parker and Samuel McConihe,
vice-presidents; Joseph B. Holt and Capt. Ira Spalding, marshals. The historical
address of the day was delivered by the Rev. Stephen Allen, pastor of the First
church. It was an able discourse and contained much of the early history of the
town up to that date.
1879 it was voted . . .to suppress the sale of cider, beer, and malt liquors.
1885 Merrimack included four small villages -- Reeds Ferry in
the northern part, Merrimack [or Souhegan] Village in the center
of town, Thornton's Ferry (situated on the Concord Railroad ,
along the Merrimack River), and South Merrimack, situated on Route
101A the old route of the Nashua and Wilton Railroad. The Reeds
Ferry and Thornton's Ferry districts acquired their names from
ferries across the river between Merrimack and Litchfield. Souhegan
village took its name from the Souhegan River, which empties into
the Merrimack River. In 1885 it contained about a thousand inhabitants,
mostly engaged in agricultural pursuits.
Description of the Town
is situated between New Hampshire's two largest cities, Manchester
and Nashua, the town of Merrimack is bounded on the east by the
Merrimack River. It is located on the west side of the river bearing
the same name, and extends north from the mouth of the Pennichuck
Brook, a distance of about six miles. The western boundary line
runs due north from the Pennichuck, at a distance of about three
and a half miles from the most westerly point reached by the Merrimack
River, within the limits of the town, which is at Thornton's Ferry.
The northern boundary extends due west from the river until it
intersects the western boundary. Hence the shape of the town is
approximately a rectangle, the eastern and southern boundaries
being very irregular, in consequence of the windings of the above-named
streams. Its average length is about six miles and its average
width a little less than five miles, and it contains nineteen
thousand three hundred and sixty-one acres.
northwest corner of the town, between it and Amherst, lies Baboosic
Pond [also written as "Babboosuc," "Baboosuc," etc]. The
largest pond wholly within the limits of the town is Naticook Lake, in the southern
part of the town. It contains about seventy-five acres. Horse-shoe Pond, close
to the Merrimack River, just above Thornton's Ferry, Dumpling Pond, near Reed's
Ferry, and various other small lakelets diversify the scenery.
Souhegan River enters the town from the west and winds through the middle portion,
emptying into the Merrimack at Souhegan Village (center). Baboosic Brook, starting
from the Baboosic Pond in Amherst, enters the town at its north-west corner, flows
southeast and empties into the Souhegan River near its mouth. The Naticook Brook,
starting from the pond of the same name, wanders northeast and finds its way into
the Merrimack through Horseshoe Pond.
the tongue of the early Native American tribes of the area, Merrimack signified
"the place of strong current" though some writers give the less poetic
meaning, "a sturgeon," Souhegan signified "the place of the plains;"
and Baboosic, "the twins."
the 1900's Horseshoe Pond was a well-known summer retreat with privately-owned
summer camps located on the shore. This area was known as Hilleah Park, and Sheila's
Grove. This property was sold and redeveloped.
Chase tells us in one of his books "that when the white men came to this
country, they found it rich in growing things, incredibly beautiful, probably
the most richly endowed of all continents of the world." Merrimack is only
a small portion of the continent and notwithstanding the fact that the early inhabitants
found the soil "mean and ordinary," it shared in the beauty and rich
endowment of which Stewart Chase tells us. The waters were teeming with many varieties
of fish, there was an abundance of wild life, lofty trees, hoary with age, covered
the land, plants, shrubs, flowers of use and beauty were on every hand. Those
wonders and beauties have gone forever as have the Native Americans who lived
amidst nature's riches for untroubled centuries.
Native Americans loved the Merrimack Valley, even so when the white men came among
them they were disposed to be friendly though history tells us of skirmishes and
bitterly fought contests; much of this was brought about by unjust dealings of
the white men and machinations of the enemies. Then the Indians saw, as Passaconaway,
the wise old warrior had told them "that soon the pleasant places they had
known would be theirs no more." They rebelled and sadly saw their race disappear
from the valley where they had hunted and fished and that has resounded to the
cries of their camp fires. And then? The place knew them no more.
is hard for us to realize the hardships of the early settlers. Their comforts
were few; they endured cold and hunger; for long years all of their supplies were
brought to the settlement on the backs of men, through unsettled, hostile country;
when sick, there was no doctor to ease their suffering. Naturally, they learned
the ways of healing. In time, the scene changed; tools came to the settlement;
grist and saw mills were built; comfortable homes took the place of rude shelters;
narrow trails were expanded into roads and bridges; horses and cattle came, teams
and stage coaches traveled the highway and boats went up and down the river.
was necessarily the occupation of most of the early inhabitants
but many small industries sprang up in different sections of the
town, largely supplementary to farming.
Some settlements were made within the limits of today's town of
Merrimack NH as early as 1673, and in 1675, [probably closer to
1665, see below] John Cromwell, a fur trader, built a trading-house
on the bank of the Merrimack, about a mile below Thornton's Ferry.
(This is known to be true).
Other stories about John Cromwell, and his trading post are NOT
DESPITE the stories stating he used his foot for a pound weight
in weighing the furs he bought, there is NO DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
OF THIS, and I believe it to be fictional. As far as the story about
the Indians not appreciating his business methods, forming a scheme
to get rid of him; but when they reached his abode the bird had
flown; so they burned his house--I have not found evidence of this
Reportedly many stories of "buried treasure" resulted,
and these stories are retold to this day.
[Read the article
about Cromwell's trading post, the "buried treasure" and
the building of Anheuser Busch's plant near that location (TXT
What we do know is that probably after William Bretton bought the
land on which John Cromwell's trading post stood, John was probably
sent a notice to leave the premises, as within this time period
he purchased land in Tyngsboro MA, just south of Merrimack, where
he built a house and another trading post. John did not die a wealthy
man, and so the story about the buried treasure is simply that--a
December 2005: Scott McPhie of Merrimack recently sent me an email, stating the
following: "I noticed on your Merrimack New Hampshire page that you have
Mr. Cromwell arriving in 1675 as a fur trader. That assumption is incorrect as
Mr. Cromwell arrived in Merrimack in 1655. The Suffolk County Registry of deeds
has him listed as such in Naticook. Therefore the conclusion that no house was
built in Merrimack until 50 years after 1675 would be incorrect. It would be correct
to say no house was built until 1700 or so as some still exist in that time frame.
I would strongly encourage you to correct this information as it will give a much
more accurate picture of the area. See NH State Papers for accurate first hand
account. (The Billerica Grants)"
In addition, from History of the
old township of Dunstable : Nashua, Nashville, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, and
Merrimac, N.H., Dunstable and Tyngsborough, Mass. by Charles J. Fox; Nashua
N.H.: C.T. Gill, 1846, page 18
"About 1665, John Cromwell, an Indian trader
also, resided at Tyngsborough, but soon after removed to Merrimac, where he built
a trading house, about two miles about the mouth of Penichuck brook, at the falls
which now bear his name [The Indian name of Cromwell's Falls was 'Nesenkeag,'
and as was generally the case, as at Naticook, Amoskeag, &c., the land for
some distance around received the same name]."
name of the first permanent settler is not known with absolute certainty, but
it is supposed to have been Jonas Barrett, who, in 1722, built his house
and began to clear up a farm, about one and a half miles west of the hamlet of
Thornton's. That place was later known as the Ezra Blodgett farm, was owned in
1885 by Washington Warner, and in 1909 by Mrs. Mortimer Cummings.
after, William Howard, then a bachelor, settled on the farm now owned by
Hazen Dodge (in 1885). He planted the first orchard, and his home ultimately became
a resort for those who loved to pass a little leisure time in drinking cider.
1724 occurred the first and only Indian skirmish known to have happened in this
town. A raiding party captured two men, Nathan Cross and Thomas
Blanchard, who were manufacturing turpentine on the north side of the Nashua
River. An alarm was given and a party of ten of the principal citizens of Dunstable
(as Merrimack was then called) started in pursuit, under the command of Lieutenant
Ebenezer French. Pressing on too heedlessly, in their eagerness to rescue their
friends, they were ambushed at the brook near Thornton's Ferry. Most of the party
fell at the first fire, and the rest were pursued and killed, one by one, except
Josiah Farwell, who escaped to receive his death-wound in Lovewalls fight, next
year. Lieutenant French was overtaken and killed about a mile from the scene of
the action, under an oak-tree, whose stump yet remains on the line between the
farms of C.A. Harris and Amasa Estey (in 1885). Cross and Blanchard were carried
to Canada by their captors, but succeeded in securing their redemption and returned
the early settlers were Hassell,
Patten, Powers, Cummings,
Stearns, McClure, Auld,
Bowers and Davidson.
Usher, an early settler, was a man of importance, being a justice of the
peace, as witnessed by several papers, still in existence in 1909. He cleared
the original farm where Samuel Barron lived about 1860, where George Bean lived
in 1885, and which was owned by Harrison Green and John Foster in 1909.
Hassell was a son of Joseph Hassell Jr. of Old Dunstable, and a grandson
of Joseph Sr. who settled in Cambridge in 1647. He settled on the farm owned (in
1885) by Hugh McKean and a daughter of his is said to have been the first white
child born in town.
Aquila Underwood lived
on the fertile meadows near Thornton's Ferry. Aquila's son, Phineas
Underwood, kept the first public-house. It stood a little
east of the Widow Crooker place (in 1909 the home of Mrs. Herbert
and Patten were the first deacons of the church.
John Chamberlain erected the first saw and gristmill, at Souhegan Falls,
in 1734, receiving as an inducement a grant of three hundred acres from the Brenton
of the first people to come to the town were the Scotch [sic Scottish-Irish].
From northern Ireland they brought with them the art of weaving and finishing
cotton, linen and woolen goods.
A mill for this purpose
was built on the Souhegan River, near the stone bridge. Isaac Riddle was
the operator, until he was burned out in 1818, when he rebuilt, to again suffer
from fire iin 1829.
He was succeeded by David
Henderson, who carried on quite an extensive business in the
manufacture of carpets, cotton and woollen goods, etc.
years weaving continued to be a thriving industry in Merrimack. In 1882 devastating
fires and inevitable change brought this to a close. [These mills stood on the
north side of the iron bridge, and were doomed by fire, a boy tipping over a lantern
which started a fire that consumed the buildings to the water's edge.]
A grist-mill followed upon this site, which
was soon taken away to allow for the manufacture of the first
funiture made in town, and operated by Holton
and Henderson. Later only tables were made here by Thomas
Parker. Finally this business was succeeded by a tannery, which
was owned by A.J. Foster.
Merrimack village was at a low ebb, desertion marked the once busy spot for its
own and so it continued for about thirteen years. [See industry after 1900].
Thornton came to town and in 1776 he went to Philadelphia
to sign the Declaration of Independence. Matthew Thornton was
a national figure, a friend of Washington, who often sought his
advice, a wise and honest man. He is buried in the cemetery at
Thornton's Ferry, which he planned and presented to Merrimack.
In 1885 the State of New Hampshire erected a monument to his memory
which stands near the cemetery.
Oliver Farwell built a tavern prior
to 1780 on Naticook Road near the intersection of Route 101A. Known as the Rockingham
House, it reportedly had a floating dance floor. It was destroyed by fire
Tavern was located on Route 3, west of the Merrimack River near Reed's
Ferry landing and was used by river travelers. Later it housed the post office,
and even later was a gasoline station.
In 1970 the tavern was dismantled and moved to Bedford NH. Judge Patten's diary
of January 20, 1781: "20th,* * *I went to Capt. Chamberlin's [in Merrimack]
with the team and I got 16 Bushels of Indian corn on credit. I am going to pay
it when I make a turn of the timber, the boys and I have got to the river it is
60 dollars per bushel. * * * I had one half bowl of W. I. Toddy at McGaw's [McGaw
of Merrimack, a Trader] for which I paid 6 dollars." [From these prices it
will be seen that the paper money had got to be worth only about one cent on a
McConihe's Tavern (also known as Nevin's
Tavern and the Merrimack House) was located where the library
is now. It was moved to the other side of Daniel Webster Highway when the library
was built. These taverns were noted in the days of stage driving and long-distance
teaming. President Andrew Jackson, so the story runs, stopped at the old Merrimack
House long enough to get dinner and make a speech, during his visit to
New Hampshire. In 1909 the Merrimack Hotel was managed by Mr. Horace Longa, "a
descendant of one of the Hessian families who came into the town after the Revolution."
This was also called the Jackson Inn, and later became the residence of Mr. Charles
Tavern on Daniel Webster Highway was built by Isaac Riddle in 1807 for
the use of the stockholders and officers of Riddle's Mills. It later became a
private home, then the Country Gourmet Restaurant and Cafe, followed by the Woodbury
House Restaurant. As of December 2005 this is Buckley's
Great Steaks. Michael and Sarah have carefully renovated the tavern, so please
support their efforts by becoming a patron.
Hannah Jack Tavern was operated by James
Thornton in the early 1800's. Built by his father Matthew Thornton
who signed the Declaration of Independence, it has since been
a private home, doctor's office, apartment house and restaurant.
This building was purchased by the owners of "The
Common Man" restaurant, and was being renovated in
2005, and re-opened again as a restaurant.
Town Buildings, Churches and Businesses
A social library was established in 1798. Later
in the 1850's a second library was formed and finally given to the
McGaw Institute. In March 1892, largely through
the efforts of Dr. Warren Pillsbury, a town library was permanently
established, and opened the following January with Dr. Pillsbury
as librarian. He was succeeded in a short time by Dr. George H.
Davis, who was followed in October of the same year by Miss
Emma Cross (a native of Manchester). Miss Cross devotedly served
the town as librarian for thirty-eight years, with the public library
located in her home on Loop Road. She gave up rooms in her house
for the accomodation of its patrons. In 1909 the library had over
three thousand volumes, with trustees: Dr. Guy H. Greeley, Mrs.
Josiah Henderson and Rev. Samuel Rose.
1925 the Lowell Memorial Library was built on Route 3, as the result of a gift
to the town from Mrs. Mabel Haseltine and Mrs.
Bertha Gordon as a memorial to their parents, Mr. & Mrs. Levi F. Lowell.
An addition was added in 1979.
Riddle built mills for the manufacture of cotton and woolen goods
and nails. He was burnt out June 10,1818, rebuilt, and carried
on the business until again burned out in 1829. Later, David
Henderson carried on an extensive business in the mills which
had been rebuilt, manufacturing carpets, cotton and woolen goods.
Most of the buildings were once more destroyed by fire in 1882,
but fortunately the building owned by Thomas Parker escaped. [see
below]. Riddle's mills were replaced by the Old White Mill. In
1906 this mill was bought by the McElwain Shoe Company and soles
for military boots were manufactured. The building housed a chemical
company in 1996.
1820, Merrimac contained 1 meeting house, 9 school districts and school houses,
5 taverns, 5 stores, 8 saw mills, 5 grain mills, 2 clothing mills, 2 carding machines
and 2 tanneries.
one time brick manufacturing was carried on quite extensively. Brick making, beginning
in the 1830's was carried on for over fifty years. Bricks were taken down the
river on flat boats until the coming of the railroad in 1839. An early brick maker
was Eri Kittredge, and his business
was carried on by his sons in 1885 by his sons Joseph Kittredge and Eri Kittredge
Mr. Ward Parker
was another pioneer in this kind of industry. He was a descendant of Dea. Thomas
Parker, who came to this country from England in 1637. Born in Windham NH, Mr.
Parker settled in Bedford in 1839, where he manufactured brick until 1850, when
he removed to Merrimack, buying the farm
where he lived the rest of his life. That being before the days of railroad
transportation, the freighting was done by boats up and down the Merrimack River.
He has the reputation of being the fastest brick moulder of his time. He held
many offices of trust in town, was a member of the constitutional convention in
1876, and representative to the state legislature in 1877. He was also deeply
interested in agricultural matters, and took many prizes for his fine exhibits
of stock at the fairs. He lived to be eighty-four years old, leaving one son,
Everett E., who was a prosperous lumber dealer.
1829 the Union Evangelical Church was formed, with a house of worship being built
in the summer of 1829.
1837 the Merrimack village church was built. The South Merrimack church was built
in 1829 to accommodate the people of that vicinity and adjacent towns. In 1873
the town hall was built.
BURNAP "LEGHORN BONNETS"
According to the oral town history, presented at the Bicentennial
celebration in 1946 (written by my grandmother, Mattie Kilborn
Webster): "The Burnap
sisters, daughters of the first minister [Jacob Burnap],
had other ideas of a woman's usefulness. It is claimed that in
this Town [Merrimack] they invented the making of "Leghorn
hats" or bonnets, as they were called. Some of these
bonnets were of black leghorn straw trimmed with peach colored
crepe, and crowned with a beautiful bouquet of half-blown roses,
lilacs and field flowers. They were often ornamented with a bow
of ribbon, long ends or streamers on one side. A bouquet of wild
poppies was sometimes placed in front surmounted by a plume of
marabout feathers. The ribbon was either straw colored or striped.
A little later the style changed. Pieces of brim was cut away
at the back and drawn up at the crown with a large bow. Strings
and rosettes were over the right ear. Some were sold in Boston
for as much as $50. John Stark bought one for his wife Molly and
it can be seen at the Historical Building (at Concord).
They not only made bonnets but other
things from grass or plated straw. This certain kind of straw was known as "Dunstable
straw." Surely those early women deserve to be remembers for their spirit
" It [Merrimack] claims the
credit of making the first Leghorn bonnets, which often sold for forty or fifty
dollars," is also noted in the book: "The Merrimack River; its source
and its tributaries. Embracing a history of manufactures, and of the towns along
its course; their geography, topography, and products, with a description of the
magnificent natural scenery about its upper waters," by J. W. Meader., published
the History of Dedham, MA, there is an extract from the Norfolk County Advertiser
of August 1821: 'On Monday last was sold at auction at Merchant's Hall the elegant
Bonnet which has been for several days exhibited at the store of Messrs. Hall
J. Howe & Co., made by Misses Bernaps of Merrimack, N.H. of a wild grass discovered
by them in that town. It was knocked off to Josiah Bradlee for Fifty Dollars.
The execution of the Bonnet was very superior to the one lately sent to England
from Connecticut. We understand that one of the above mentioned young ladies is
now visiting at Medford and that the money was presented to her yesterday afternoon.
Thus shall the skill and industry of our countrywomen ever be rewarded.' "[from
The Burnap-Burnett genealogy by Henry Wyckoff Belknap; Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute,
1925, page 119]
Woodhouse of Wethersfield CT plyed her trade in the bonnet making business,
about the same time as the Burnap sisters, however she patented her design in
first use of the excellent water privilege at Souhegan was by
John Chamberlain, who built the first grist-mill and the
first saw mill in town. In 1885 Stephen C. Damon's mill on the
Souhegan River, in the center of town, afforded gristmill facilities
and produced sawn lumber; Rodney Hodgman had a saw mill on the
Pennichuck River in South Merrimack; Mr. Stowell had a gristmill
and sawmill at the northwest corner of the town on the Baboosic;
Jones ran a gristmill on the Naticook Brook near Thornton's
Ferry; Jerry Kittredge carried on the business of manufacturing
overalls, pants, and jackets. There was a saw-mill at Atherton
Falls [the water takes a headlong plunge here of more
than ten feet. In 1909 it was reported that a remarkable stone
profile is located here, rivalling in some respects the features
of the Old Man of the Mountain].
County Record: a
glimpse of the business and resources to thirty-one towns, by
Richards Dodge, 1853
The inhabitants of Merrimack are almost exclusively engaged in
agricultural pursuits. Soil light and sandy; there is much waste
land here; the intervals of the Merrimack are productive. A marked
improvement has recently been observable in the educational spirit
of the inhabitants.
1250, houses 226, families 239, farms 93; value of lands $298,
190, stick in trade, #34, 138, factories #3,750, inventory $501,840.
the Peace: Oliver Spalding Jr., John Eayrs, Robert McGaw, Leonard
Walker, Edward P. Parker, D.T. Ingalls, Isaac McGaw, Benj. Kidder,
Selectmen: Alexander Mc. Wilkins, Benj. Kidder, Nathan Parker.
Representative: Daniel T. Ingalls
Superintending School Committee: Harrison Eaton. 12 districts.
Merrimack, Matthew P. Nichols; Thornton's Ferry, Caleb Jones;
South Merrimack, Peter E. Smith.
Edward P. Parker.
Physician, Harrison Eaton
Deputy Sheeriff, M. McConihe
Societies, Congregational, Elbridge G. Little; South Merrimac,
no settled pastor
David Henderson, J. & P. Mullen
W.I. Goods, E.P. Parker, S.C. Anderson, M.B. McConihe, David Henderson
James Kendall, J. Abbott, T.M. King, Henry Parker.
Wm. Patterson, Isaiah Herrick, Franklin Herrick.
Saw and Grist
Mills, David Henderson, -- Holt, -- Fuller.
Nathan parker, A. Mc'K Wilkins
New Hampshire Register, Farmer's Almanac and Business Directory
MERRIMACK, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
26 miles south of Concord NH; 10 miles southwest of Manchester;
8 miles north from Nashua; 8 miles east from Amherst.
Railroad stations: Merrimack, Reed's Ferry, and Thornton's Ferry,
on Concord Railroad / South Merrimack on Nashua & Wilton Railroad
OFFICERS: Clerk, Benjamin Ela; Treasurer, M.P. Nichols; Selectmen,
Isaac Fitts, Artemas Knight, A.C. Darrah; Supts, M.P. Nichols, John
POSTMASTER & EXP AGT - G.H. Bixby
JUSTICES -- Harrison Eaton, David Henderson,
S.C. Anderson, A. McC. Wilkins, Benjamin Ela, O.M. Parker, Isaac
Fitts, C E. Humphrey, N.Y. Oliver.
CHURCH -- Cong., C.L. Hubbard
HOTEL -- Merrimack, H.N. Colston
LITERARY INSTITUTION -- McGaw Normal Institute, B.H. Weston, pr.
MANUFACTURERS -- extension tables, Thomas Parker; shoddy, Wm. Mitchell;
woolens, David Henderson.
MECHANICS-- carpenters, G.W. Moulton, C.E. Humphrey, Joseph Shedd,
Wm. E. Brown, F.A. Chamberlin; painter, F.F. Walker; shoemaker,
G.H. Bixby; wheelwright, Henry F. Herrick.
MERCHANT --N.Y. Oliver. Physician-Harrison Eaton.
POSTMASTER, MERCHANT & EXP. AGENT--K.W. Brown
MANUFACTURERS--lumber, Rodney Hodgman
MECHANICS-- coopers, Horace Evans, Sanderson & Son wheelwrights,
Wm. Patterson & Son.
EXP AGENT--C.S. Nesmith MERCHANT-- S.C. Anderson
MANUFACTURERS-- brick, Joseph & Eri Kittredge; fish barrels,
kits, cooper stock and lumber, Fessenden & Lowell; overhalls,
J.W. Kittredge, F.F. Walker
MECHANICS--blacksmith, Geo. W. Colston; coopers, Fessender &
Lowell. Merchant--G.B. Griffin
or 1873 the Fessenden
& Lowell Company commenced business at the Reed's Ferry
section of Merrimack and were manufacturers of fish and syrup packages,
cooper stock, and lumber. The corporation was formed originally
by co-partnership of Benjamin F.
Fessenden, Anson D. Fessenden and Levi F. Lowell of Townsend,
Mass. From a small beginning this business developed into one of
the largest industries of the town, and continued under the above
partnership until the death of Benjamin Fessenden in 1882, when
his part of the partnership was succeeded by his son, Anson D. Fessenden.
In 1893 the partnership was changed to a stock company, retaining
the same name, Fessenden & Lowell, as before. It was still operating
in 1885. The company manufactured lumber, kits, pails, kegs, half-barrels
and barrels, nearly all of which were made from native pine which
was bought in the vicinity of these mills. In 1909 the business
was managed by Levi F. Lowell,
president and general manager of the package department, and
George P. Butterfield, who was general manager of the package department,
and John E. Haseltine, who was manager for the stone and the mill.
Alfred N. Fessenden, son of Andson D. Fessenden of Townsend, was
treasurer at the same time.
Fessenden and Lowell also built a
company store on the corner of Depot Street and Route 3 for the
convenience of the employees of their cooper shop. (Charles Nesmith,
an associate of Fessenden and Lowell, operated the store for a time.)
A fire destroyed this store it was rebuilt and became the property
of the Jenkins family. The post office was located in this building
with Raymond Jenkins as postmaster. Later Stanley and Millie Green
operated the store when it became known as the Reed's Ferry Market.
In 1873 a cooperage was established at Reeds Ferry by Fessenden
and Lowell, becoming one of the largest of its kind in the state.
In 1913 Mr. Lowell died. In 1929 the plant moved to Townsend MA.
1885, the Thomas Parker Table Company manufactured
black walnut and chestnut extension tables and dining and office tables. There
were three stores in town including Porter & Co. at Reed's Ferry, W.J. Ayer
at Souhegan; and G.B. Griffin at Thornton's Ferry. There was only one hotel in
this year kept by William Kennedy at South Merrimack --its principal income derived
from summer boarders. One physician--Warren W. Pillsbury-- resided in town this
year, but no attorneys.
August 28, 1885, an act of the legislature authorized the erection
suitable monument to the memory of Matthew Thornton, upon
a site selected and donated by the town. On September 29, 1892,
this monument was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies, the Hon.
William T. Parker being president and Hon. Charles H. Burns the
orator of the day.
One of the first considerations of the forefathers was their spiritual
welfare and they early sought a place of worship.
The first meeting-house was erected in what is
now the town of Litchfield (which area then included what is now
the town of Merrimack). It was a frame house, begun in 1736, but
not completed for several years. The first minister there was the
Rev. Joshua Tufts, a young graduate from Harvard, who received the
salary of one hundred and fifty pounds, old tenor. There were then
twenty-six voters on the east side of the river and one less on
the west side in Merrimack.
They also held meetings in homes or wherever convenient
until their first church (in the current boundaries of Merrimack)
was built, near Turkey Hill in
Wednesday, October 14, 1772, the first minister
was settled in town, the Rev. Jacob Burnap, and his ordination took
place amid impressive ceremonies, attended by the representatives
of thirteen church. The meeting house was not finished them, but
loose floors were laid and stairs built to reach the galleries.
[Dr. Burnap was pastor almost fifty years, he was twice married
and had a family of thirteen children].
Among those who were efficient in this early church
society was Deacon Jonathan Cummings,
who lived on the farm once occupied by William McKean and owned
(in 1909) by John Green of Nashua. Deacon William Patten was another
interested in this church movement. He settled near where the school-house
in District No. 6 formerly stood. Samuel Spalding, the ancestor
of the Spaldings in Merrimack was also active in this work.
old meeting house stood for many years as an interesting monument
of bygone days. After a time, a more central location being desired
to accomodate the increasing population along the river, it was
used for a town house until the new town house was built in 1872,
when it was abandoned for that purpose and left
to fall into decay. Finally the town voted to repair the ancient
structure, but before this action could take effect it was burned
on the morning of July 4, 1896, and thus one of the most interesting
landmarks in this vicinity was lost.
An innovation that created considerable opposition
at the time was the placing of stoves in the meeting house by individuals,
so that it would be more comfortable upon a biting winter's day
when the members were in duty bound to listen to one of the old-time
sermons, when the time consumed in preaching far outweighed the
short sermons of today. The credit of the introduction of this method
of warming the houses belongs mainly to the efforts of Dr. Abel
Goodrich, one of the most influential and respected citizens of
the town then, and to Mr. Daniel T. Ingalls, another respected member
of the society.
second Congregational Church, known as the Union Evanglical Church,
Rev. Samuel H. Tollman, pastor, was organized in 1829, and the meeting
house built at what was called Centreville or South Merrimack.
the "Organizations" section
of this web site for a current list of houses of worship in Merrimack
Historic and Old Buildings
There are some old historic buildings in town. [SEE OLD TAVERNS
above] The old store at Reed's Ferry, kept by Jacob McGaw and then
by his son Robert McGaw, is where Matthew Thornton, Jacob Burnap,
Horace Greeley and other celebrities of the day used to trade. [This
is now the Getty Station]. There was the Jackson Inn, later
the house of Mr. Charles Nute, where President Jackson is said to
have stopped for dinner in 1830 on his way to Concord. And Nevins
hotel, later an apartment house, where the banquet was held at the
centennial celebration in 1846.
brick store, owned in 1946 by William Abbott is supposed to have been built with
bricks made in the Kaolin farm bricks yards, by the masons, for some purpose of
their own. The date of the building is unknown.
is also the home
Kittredge, author of "Tenting Tonight," one of the
finest songs of the Civil War period. Every section of the town
has some intriguing memento of those far off days.
Merrimack numbered among her substantial citizens Mr. George
Franklin Spalding, who lived upon "Appledore
Farm," which consisted of seven hundred acres of timber
and tillage land, situated five miles from Nashua. The Spaldings
were with the first to settle in Merrimack, and their
ancestry can be traced back eight generations.
Jonathan Wheeler built a cape-style house on Peaslee Road. After his death his
daughter inherited the property, and then her daughters who both married a Mr.
Kent. Their son G. Harold Kent owned "The Kent Homestead."
Another first consideration of early times was education
for the children. The old town reports testify to their ardent desire to have
their children learn for they are given over almost wholly to a detailed account
of the qualifications of the teachers, their success in teaching and the advancement
of pupils. Through the years this consideration has not abated, the Merrimack
schools have steadily advanced.
1776 the selectmen were instructed to "divide the town into school districts
and proportion the school money among them." In 1783 the school districts
were authorized to expend the school money. In 1810 a step in advance in behalf
of education was taken by appointing a committee to inspect the schools. The first
committee consisted of Rev. Jacob Burnap, James Wilkins and Simeon Kenney. This
was the beginning of supervision of schools.
In 1826 the
district system was begun and committees elected by the different districts with
a town superintendent to look after the examination of the teachers.
the mid-1800's several school houses were built from bricks made in the Merrimack
brickyards. All have since been torn down.
1885 the number of pupils enrolled was about 170, all of whom studied reading,
spelling and penmanship; nearly all studied arithmetic and geography, about one-half
studied grammar and one-third United States History. There were few classes in
drawing and vocal music, and few pursued High School study. In 1885 18 Merrimack
students were enrolled at McGaw Normal Institute, two former students were attending
college, and one was a student of medicine.
Normal Institute was established in 1849 in the Reeds
Ferry section of Merrimack, overlooking the Merrimack River. The
founder of this system of school work was Prof. William Russell,
who secured supporters for his then speculative idea of having
a school for the training of teachers. A charter was obtained
in 1849, and the following August the stockholders organized with
McGaw as chairman and Matthew P. Nichols as secretary and
treasurer. The number of pupils the first term was sixty-five,
and certainly the projector of this school had reason to be hopeful
for the result. Orderly deportment was strictly followed and the
school continued to flourish, having an average attendance of
a little more than fifty.
Professor Russell was succeeded in 1853 by Mr.
Henry Brickett, who resigned after four years. Messrs. Levi Wallace
and Samuel Morrison followed him as teachers, after which Messrs.
Hartshorn and Brown held possession for a year or more, calling
it the Hillside School.
In 1865, inspired by the war, a radical change
was made, and it became known as the Granite State Military and
Collegiate Institute, and for a while it was successfully carried
on by the Rev. S.W. howell, but this interest lessened until only
one pupil remained, and at the end of ten years the school was
abandoned and the building taken for tenement purposes.
At this dark hour of the school, its earliest
and firmest friend, Mr. Robert McGaw, passed away, but in his
will he provided an endowment of $10,000, with the provision that
the school should be restored to its original character and be
known as the McGaw Normal Institute. Thus in 1872, the institution
received new life, the buildings were repaired, and Mr. Bartlett
H. Weston installed as principal. He retained his position for
seven years, to be succeeded by Prof. Elliot Whipple.
In 1900 Prof.
David F. Carpenter became principal. A native of Salem, Mass.,
he graduated from the Salem Academy at the age of thirteen, and
finished a course in the Massachusetts Agricultural College in
1886, when he was eighteen. During the years of Professor Carpenter's
government, McGaw Institute flourished as well as could be expected
under the conditions overruling it. The care and responsibility
of maintaining such a school had fallen largely upon the son-in-law
of Mr. McGaw, Hon. Francis A. Gordon, who was the leading trustee
of the institute and who had a deep interest in educational matters.
When the school became too great a burden for him, he appealed
to the town for assistance. This was given willingly, and it was
voted to make the needed repairs upon the building, put in new
furniture and equipments demanded by the state, and otherwise
forward the good work of a first-class school. Five trustees were
elected, the new board consisting of Carmi M. Parker, president;
Francis A. Gordon, vice-president; David R. Jones, John E. Haseltine
and William Patterson. Professor Carpenter, in the meantime, had
secured a lucrative position as superintendent of schools for
Hanover (town schools), Orford, Piermont and Warren [N.H.] where
he located. Prof. Leverett V. Symonds, a graduate of Williams
and a post-graduate of Harvard, accepted the invitation to become
principal in 1906, and, with a new laboratory and apparatus, under
its new management and financial assurance, McGaw Normal Institute
promised many years of usefulness. In 1946 it was conducted as
a high school.
Some of its students/graduates included: Mark
Bailey, professor of elocution at Yale College; Hon. Daniel Barnard,
lawyer and statesman of Franklin NH; Joseph Cushman, one of the
principals of McGaw Institute in later years; Levi Wallace, a
principle at McGaw and afterwards a prominent lawyer of Groton,
MA; John Swett, for many years superintendent of public instruction
in California; Mrs. Harriet Newell Eaton, a poetess and prose
writer of ability; Walter Kittredge, the popular singer, author
of "Tenting on the Old Camp-Ground," "No Night
There," "The Goldest Streets," etc.
& Manufacturing after 1900
About 1900 new life came to the deserted
industrial section of Merrimack. A bobbin shop was located in the old shoddy mill
left from the fire of 1882. This business shortly moved to Goffstown.
S. Nesmith, who had a residence
at Reeds Ferry, established an excelsior making plant in Merrimack,
in February of 1900. Dependant at first on water power, he added
steam, so that he was able to work the year round. Poplar wood was
used, and fifteen hundred tons of excelsior were made annually in
1909. In 1946 this business was operated by Gordon and Haseltine
and was situated near the railroad station.
Mr. Nesmith came
from "good old Scotch-Irish stock," his paternal ancestor, Robert Nesmith,
being among the first settlers in Londonderry. He was a native of Merrimack, his
parents being Semual and Elizabeth (McKean) Nesmith. He married Miss Ellen E.
Worthly, daughter of Thomas G. and Rebekah (Moore) Worthly of Bedford.
this time also, Gordon Woodbury appeared on the scene and built
all the building operated by the International Shoe Co. and the
houses on Railroad Ave. and Greek Hill (so named for the Greek
workers who were employed in the mills and lived on the hill.).
Merrimack Manufacturing Co. formerly occupied the mills and made ladies and children's
shoes. In 1900 a tannery was built. A severe flood came in the early part of the
year and did so much damage to the buildings built by Mr. Woodbury that he never
used them again. After remaining idle for a time, they were used for different
manufacturing purposes. In 1906 the McElwain Co. came, bought all of the property
and formed elaborate plans for making Merrimack a city. Unfortunately, Mr. McElwain
died suddenly, his brother had other ideas and the great dream came to naught.
After operating successfully until 1921, the company sold the entire concern to
the International Shoe Co. (doing business in 1946).
Stockley came in 1921 and started a cement business which became
a wonderful success. At his death, the business was purchased
the Hume Pipe Company (operating in 1946).
1924 the Merrimack
Fire Department was chartered [read more history].
Merrimack Leather Co., by the persistence and initiative of A.E. Jebb and Sons
[was] doing a thriving business in 1946.
table business, once owned by David R. Jones then E.R. Bates and Co. became the
National Furniture Co., Inc. in 1946 [this was located near the site where original
Chamberlain mill stood].
and Sons [had] a small, enterprising wood working business operating with remarkable
success [in 1946].
department was organized in 1924 with J.N.
the 1930's the Merrimack Leather Company on Railroad Avenue was
one of the largest employers in Merrimack. They processed hides
for leather goods.
ALL BUSINESSES IN
MERRIMACK NH in 1927 & 1928 from the REGIONAL DIRECTORY
**NOTE: NO BANK** [they would have to go to Nashua, Milford or
Manchester] NO HARDWARE STORE, JEWELER, JP, LAUNDRY, LAWYER, PLUMBER,
REAL ESTATE OFFICE**
Clarissa Griffin, Main St.
Blacksmith, Joseph A. Roux, Reeds Ferry
Carpenter - Archie A. Grant, Amherst Rd
Congregational - Charles S. Haynes, Reeds Ferry
Merrimack Congregational - John W. Wright, Main St.
Concrete Pipe Manufacturer - Frederick A. Stockley, Depot
Cooperage - Fessenden & Lowell Inc. off Main,
Currier - W.H. McElwain Co. Inc - (welts) Main St.
Electrician - Wilbur J. Foster, Depot
Excelsior Manufacturers - Haseltine & Gordon B&M Depot
Express Companies - American Railway Express Co B&M Depot
Jacob Bailey, Bedford Road, Merrimack
George A. Bean, Baboosic Road Merrimack
Morris C. Beard Bedford Rd Merrimack
Arthur C. Bell, Main Street Merrimakc
Joseph N. Bogart, So. Merrimack
Charles C. Bosclair Baboosic Road Merrimack
Enoch M. Boutilier S. Merrimack
Napoleon Desrochers off Bedford Rd. Merrimack
John Donovan, Bedford Rd Merrimack
Charles H. Fields, Amherst Rd. Merrimack
Elmer Fields, Amherst Rd Merrimack
Milo E. Fisher Baboosic Rd Merrimack
Egbert J. Follansbee S. Merrimack
Joseph H. Foster, Amherst Rd Merrimack
William L.R. French, Reeds Ferry Merrimack
Peter Galinsky, Tinker Rd. Merrimack
Howard W. Gamble, So. Merrimack
Joseph D. Gauther, So. Merrimack
Gilmore, Bert E. Amherst Rd Merrimack
Harry M. Green, Thorntons Ferry
Frank J. Grimes, Amherst Rd Merr
Charles S. Haynes, Reeds Ferry Merrimack
Norris Henderson E. Main Merrimack
Carl Hendrick Bedford Rd Merrimack
James C.F. Hodgeman Bedford Rd
Stanislaus Hujsak Bedford Rd Merrimack
Dana R. Hutchinson off Baboosic Rd Merrimack
Kaolin Farm Co. Main St. Merrimack
Thomas E. Karr Thornton Rd Merrimack
Frank Laroche, Tinker Rd Merrimack
Clemence Lastowka Amherst Rd Merrimack
Harrison Longa Amherst Rd
John A. McAfee Main St Merrimack
Peter Masewicz Bedford Rd Merrimack
William H. Nichols Baboosic Rd Merrimack
Charles R. Parker, South Merrimack
Bertie L. Peaslee So. Merrimack Rd.
Carl L. Pecker, Thorntons Ferry
Charles E. Putnam So. Merrimack
Thomas I. Richards, Baboosic Rd
Leonard A. Seymour Main St. Merr.
Milton R. Shonyo Baboosic Rd Merr.
David Tremblay Main St. Merr
Guy B. Watkins Reeds Ferry Merr
George Watkins Reeds Ferry Merr
Thomas Watkins, Thornton's Ferry Merr
George H. Webster So. Merrimack Rd. Merr
Edwin Weston So. Merrimack
Fox Farm - Silversheen Fox & Fur Farm, Main St. Merrimack
Furniture Manufacturers - David R. Jones (table) - Depot n RR
Elmer D. Hall Main St. Merrimack
Everett W. Merrill Amherst Rd Merrimack
Reeds Ferry Garage Main St. Merrimack
Curtis L. Bell, Main St. Merrimack
Frank B. Carroll, Main St. Merrimack
Hialeah Park Main Merrimack [at Horseshoe Pond]
Everett W. Kemp Main Merrimack
Louis LeBlanc N Main Merrimack
James Mastricola Main St Merrimack
Charles F. Russell Main St. Merrimack
Percy E. Wilburn E. State Highway Merr
George B. Griffin, Thornton's Ferry
J.W. Morse & Son, Merrimack
Fisk Bros, Main St. Merrimack
Henry Hock, Main St. Merrimack
Harry L. Jenkins, Main St. Merrimack
Peter Kiestlinger, Main Merrimack
Mrs. Mary Welch, Main Merrimack
Hairdressers - Wilfred E. Houle, Main St. Merrimack
Harnessmaker - Joseph H. Roy, Main St.
Deancroft Inn Main St.
Fairview Inn Main
Geneva Lodge (summer) Baboosic Lake
Naticook Inn, Main St.
Parker House, Depot Merr
Point of Pines House, Baboosic Lake
Thornton Mansion (summer) Main
Fessenden & Lowell Inc, off Main
Daniel W Proctor, So. Merrimack
Louis N. LeBlanc Main St.
John McKeown Main St. Merrimack
Music Teacher [music education] - Schneiderheinze Alice M., Reeds
Ferry (back Road) Merr.
Painter - William T. Henderson, McElwain Ave Merr
Ephraim Bartlett Main St Merr
Henry P. Cogger Baboosic Rd Merr
Arthur R. Herrick Main St. Merr
Frank Martinkus Thorntons Ferry Merr
Henry C. Stimson Pulpit Rd Merr
Restaurant - Log Cabin, Main St. (SUMMER)
Roadside Stands - George W. Dow, Main St.
Tea Room - Bird's Nest Tea House Main St. Merrimack
Coffee Pot & Waffle Iron, Main St. Merrimack
Madge McKeown, Main St. Merrimack
Tanners - Merrimack Tanning Co. Depot Merrimack
Teaming - Donat Breault, Baboosic Rd. Merr
Western Union Telegraph Co, Garden Mil, Depot Wil Dept
Telephone Companies - New England Telephone & Telegraph Co
14 South Mill Dept Merr
Undertaker Charles E. Fisk, E. Main, Merr.
in business list but should be
Four Railroad Stations Boston & Maine:
-Merrimack, Angus Morrison agt
-Reeds Ferry C L Webster agt [this is Clarence L. Webster, my
Lone Star Ranch, about 1939
The Lone Star Ranch, located in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire,
was opened in 1938 by country radio singer, Baron West. Baron
and his friends built the ranch and opened it, featuring country
bands and entertainers.
In 1940, "Sagebrush" Jim Marshall
and his band operated the ranch. In the early days, Elton Britt,
Georgia Mae and other New England performers appeared on Sunday
afternoons during the summer months. Jim Marshall featured acts
from the Grand Ole Opry (www.opry.com, natch), movie stars including
the Hoosier Hotshots, and the Sons of the Pioneers. Jim Marshall
died in a car accident. In 1942, Ken Lane and his band from Lynn,
Mass. and Ken McKenzie of Portland, Maine kept the ranch open.
In 1944, the Bar X Boys from Gardner, Mass.
and the Circle C Boys and others helped to run the ranch. In 1945,
the ranch closed due to World War II. [Evidently in 1946,] Gene
LaVerne, popular radio personality and country entertainer,
took charge of the Lone Star Ranch. His band was known as The
Lone Star Ranch Gang. Under Gene's guidance, the ranch grew in
popularity. It featured two concerts plus an open jamboree show
every Sunday afternoon. Featured performers included acts such
as Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, and Ernest
Tubbs from the Grand Ole Opry, as well as WWVA Jamboree U.S.A.
acts from Wheeling, W. Va. Favorites were Yodeling Kenny Roberts,
Doc Williams and Chickie, Dusty Owens, and Yodeling Slim Clark."
Local performers included Dwight Davis and the Linemen, Dave Miller,
Doug Garron, and Clyde Joy and his band.
In 1956, Buzz Whittaker purchased the ranch
and continued to present top country shows. According to Steve
Ashland, a former employee of WMUR-TV, Buzz Whittaker had a weekly
television program on WMUR-TV, Channel 9 in the late 1950's. In
1983, Buzz announced that he could no longer continue to keep
the ranch open. The Lone Star Ranch closed in October 1983. [written
by Paul "Hank" Preston, archived web site] [See
photograph] [NOTE: The Merrimack
Historical Society has a small book with additional information
and better photographs of the Lone Star Ranch.]
1946 the town had its share of secret orders and clubs. Thornton Grange, the Odd
Fellows, Rebekahs, Ladies Aid, Missionary Society, Community Club, Busy Fingers
Club, Thornton's Ferry Social Club, Reed's Ferry Women's Club, the South Village
Club, the Catholic Women's Club. At one time there was an order of Masons and
before 1946 the Horseshoe Fish and Game Club, all reaching out for social and
1946 Merrimack had two historic covered bridges [see
photographs] which burned down in the 1950's. Currently there
is one 32.5 ft. covered bridge (built in 1990) on Baboosic Brook,
on Stowell Road. It is a prefabricated panel-lam floor system,
not traditional style.
May of 1950 woodland fires threatened homes from Derry to Nashua.
The blaze started Page Road in Litchfield and burned more than
40 acres of woodland there. Merrimack was the center of the heaviest
brush fire in several years. Starting shortly after the noon hour,
two separate fires kept firefighters hopping, Aided by West winds
of gale-like force, flames spread rapidly devouring everything
in their path.
Heaviest loser in the town was Arthur
Longa, owner of Art's garage on the Route 3 highway. His building
housing several cards and automotive supplies was gutted and other
cards outside the building were destroyed.
Rev. John Wright, minister of the
First Congregational Church, lost a large barn and silo and two
animals, a bull and a heifer.
According to Merrimack fire official, there were two separate
fires, about a mile from each other.
The first which caused the heavier
damage broke out in the area around Wild Cat falls but in short
time, winds carried it down to Route 3, across the highway, past
the Boston and Main railroad tracks, continuing to the Merrimack
About a mile north, a blaze started
some distance from the rear of the Lady of Mercy church aid in
its path, endangered the Merrimack town hall, the church, the
library, and homes in the vicinity.
Nashua Telegraph (Nashua, New Hampshire) May 8, 1950)
buildings of important to the town were started in 1959 and completed
in 1960--the Merrimack Medical Center, Inc., the Arthur Gordon
Memorial Fire Station, and the Congregational church parsonage.
The medical center was opposite the high school, with G. Donald
Devereux, president of the Medical Center. The fire station and
parsonage were made possible by gifts of money from Mrs. Bertha
(Lowell) Gordon. On February 23, 1960, five hundred persons attended
the program highlighting the dedication of the fire station.
1963 The Nashua Wood Products Company located in Thornton's Ferry,
owned and operated by David Sklar, manufacturing molded and shaped
wood parts, ie wooden handles and brush backes. It employed 40
Indian Head National Bank of Nashua, N.H. built a branch bank
in Merrimack village, and opened March 2, 1964.
The Merrimack school band was sent to the New York World's Fair
in July of that year.
construction of a new ready mix concrete plant known as Pre-Mix
of New Hampshire.
1965 Merrimack's new post office was dedicated on September 12,
1965 Harry Watkins, a former long-time resident and member of
the Board of Selectman of Merrimack left to the town two tracts
of forest land which are to be known as the "Watkins Forests"
and in addition left a substantial amount of personal estate in
trust for the benefit of the elementary school grades. [Harry
Watkins died March 28, 1965 in Manchester NH, age 93 buried Merrimack
1965 a new pumper was purchased for the Fire Department.
In 1970, the population for Merrimack was 8,595. By 1997, the
population had grown to 23,611. As the town grew, both large and
small companies moved here, such as Unitrode
(purchased by Texas Instruments in 1999), Sanders
Associates (purchased by Lockheed Corp and even later by BAE),
Technologies (purchased by PC Connections).
Merrimack is home to several high-tech firms and large corporations.
Anheuser Busch Brewery is one of three designated U.S. locations
for its famous Clydesdale horses, making the brewery a popular
local attraction. Other prominent companies such as Fidelity
Gobain have settled here, bringing well-paying jobs and business
professionals to the area.
Links to lists of current Merrimack NH Companies:
Chamber of Commerce Members
the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, as well as other conflicts
in which our country has become entangled, Merrimack loyally supported the cause.
Edward Goldstone Lutwyche, Esq., an English gentleman
of education and property, resided in Merrimac before 1776 at Thornton's Ferry,
(then called Lutwyche's Ferry). He was a Colonel of the regiment in 1775, but
on the Declaration of Independence he joined the English (under General Gage in
Boston), left the country, to which he never returned, and at the close of the
war his estate was confiscated by the State.
Hampshire furnished more than half of the men engaged in the battle of Bunker
Hill, and eleven of them were from Merrimack.
from Merrimack who served in the Revolutionary War (including
those on the Committee of Safety, compiled from several sources):
David Alld(s) (Lieut.), Isaac G. Alld(s), William Alld Jr.,
Benjamin Alld, John Alld, William Arbuckle, Capt. Samuel Ayers,
Nahum Baldwin, Capt. Cesar/Caesar
Barnes, Capt. Thomas Barnes, Eleazer Barnes, Capt. William
Barron (Capt.), Jonathan Barron, Samuel Barron, Augustus
Blanchard (Capt.), Jonathan Blanchard Esq., Lieut. Benjamin
Bowers, Andrew Bradford, John Combs [Coombs], William Coombs,
William Cook, John Cowdree/Cowdry, William Cowen/Cowin/Cowan [reported
deserted in one document], Simeon Cummings,
Reuben Cummings, Robert Cunningham, Solomon Danforth, Abel Davis,
Thomas Davis, Corporal Gideon Davis, James Dickey, Nathaniel Dickey,
Seth Emerson, John Fields, Lieut. Henry Fields, Sergent Aaron
Gage, John Galt, Nathaniel Gearfield [Garfield], Samuel Gibson,
James Gilmore (Ensign), Matthew Goodwin, Thomas Hammond(s), Abel
Haskell, Jason Haskell, Thomas Hay, Thomas Hay Jr., John Hazleton
(2d Lieut.), Samuel Henry, Ebenezer Hill(s), Ebenezer Hills, Jr.,
Joseph Hills, Stephen Hill, Asa Hutchinson, Solomon Hutchinson,
William King, John Jacob(s), ?James Lickey [possible typo and
should be James Dickey], James Mack, Timothy Martin, John McClure/McCluer,
Thomas McClure (Serg't), Sargent William McClure, Benjamin McColester,
Robert McCormack, Titus McGaw, William McGilvery, David Melvin,
James Mores, John Neal, Joseph Nichols, James Orr, John Orr, Samuel
Orr, William Orr, Benjamin Roby, Silas Roby, Samuel Spaulding,
Samuel Spaulding Jr., Benjamin Stearns,
Frances Steward [Francis Stewart], William Stewart, William Talbert,
Hugh Thornton, David Truel, Ebenezer
Usher, Benjamin Vickere/Vickery, John Vickery, 1st Lieut.
Zacheus/Zachariah Walker, William Wallace, John Weare/Weir/Wier,
Samuel Whidden, and William Whidden. [SEE
TEXT FILE for more details on companies, regiments, and
places of services]
WAR aka War of the Rebellion***
During the Civil War or "War of the Rebellion"
[1860-1865], one hundred and twenty men [115 in a second source]
were called: 83 volunteered, 25 citizens sent substitutes, 9 substitutes
were hired by the town, and 7 citizens re-enlisted.
The highest bounty paid was $550,
and that by a vote of the town. Great credit belongs to William
T. Parker, who was military agent through the entire war. In
1892 an appropriate monument was erected to the memory of the soldiers
of the Civil War.
of Volunteers from Merrimack who served during the Civil War:
David Asquith, David Atwood, Nathaniel C. Barker, John Barnes,
Gilman Blood, George F. Bowers, John H. Bowers, Charles L. Brigham,
Henry F. Butterfield, Joseph Cady, William H. Campbell, Wallace
Clark, Abel M. Colby, Henry Collins, Horace B. Corning (killed),
George W. Darrah (re-enlisted), Matthew Dickey, Hugh Dolan, Peter
H.B. Dolan, Edward A. Downs (killed), R.H. Duffey, George W. Fisher,
Francis F. Flint, George W. Flint, Courtland Follansbee (died
in Libby Prison), Charles G. Foot, Edward P. French., A.S. Gardner,
James W. Gardner, Frank T. Gardner, Edwin Goodwin, Charles O.
Gould, Horace S. Gould, Warren Green, Charles N. Green (re-enlisted
and commissioned second lieutenant), James Hale, Levi W. Hall,
Richard Hensen (deserted), David Henderson,
Jr., James Henderson, William Henderson, Silas P. Hubbard,
B. Ivison, John H. Jackman, Spence F. Jewett, Thomas Law, Patrick
Lee, Charles H. Longa, George B. Longa (died in the army), John
H. Longa, James W. Longa, Tyler T. Longa, H. Washington Longa
(re-enlisted), Samuel Marsh, Ira Mears, Aaron Mears, Orvil A.
McClure, Samuel E. McClure, James M. McConihe (re-enlisted), Charles
H. McGilveray, George F. McGilveray, Edward McKean (re-enlisted),
Rufus Merriam (killed), Charles W. Morgan, James L. Nash, John
P.Y. Nichols (died in camp at Concord), Grosvenor Nichols, Charles
W. Parker, Corwin J. Parker, Nathan A. Parker, Thomas A. Parker,
Henry C. Patrick (killed), John G. Reed, James A. Reed, George
H. Robbins, John L. Robbins, George W. Savage, Orison Sanderson,
Alexander Shackey (belonged in Hudson), Matthew P. Tennent, George
Wiley, Charles O. Wilkinson
NH & WORLD WAR I***
following information about Merrimack NH during WWII is taken from
the town's Bicentennial Pageant held on June 30, 1946, as written
by my grandmother, Mattie Kilborn Webster, and presented on that
day by Horace Patterson.
WORLD WAR I: 1917-1918
In 1917 when the War began the mothers who have sent their sons
to World War II were sending their brothers and sweethearts to World
War I. We as a people had been living under the comforting delusion
that it could not happen here and forthwith had elected
as our President, that great Idealist Woodrow Wilson
on the slogan He Kept Us Out of War.
But soon the United States was to learn one of its most valuable
lessons --that any nation founded on Democracy cannot indefinitely
sit back and see that Democracy threatened and assailed in any other
part of the world. And so, after War was declared, we find the youth
of this Town rising to the occasion and answering The Call
to the Colors with the same enthusiasm and patriotism as they
had always exhibited in previous wars.
They went to Milford to enlist, Charles Emerson being one of the
Recruiting Officers. We women played our part as we are doing in
the recent wear. We hung a service flag in the window with its stars
1-2-3, and the Red Cross flag beside it. We sewed for the destitute
of Europe particularly the Belgians. A large number took courses
in home nursing sponsored by the Red Cross. We raised our Victory
Gardens and conserved our food that was the beginning of
the cold-pack method of canning for the home, and the University
sent out instructors to teach us how to do it, so that we might
save much of the garden we had tended.
In that War we had to learn to use substitutes, although we were
not rationed, in that we were short of sugar, wheat flour and many
other things. We had our Thrift stamps and our Liberty Bond drive.
It was the last Bond drive (I believe) which subscribed was raised
in full, in about 20 minutes from the time it was opened in the
Town Hall. Merrimack being the first Town in New England to report
having Gone over the top. How proud we were the next
morning when we read about it in Headlines of the daily paper.
They (The Boys) went from this Town 47 strong, won high
praise for their gallantry and high qualities. It was largely a
Yankee Crew, a name with a good reputation of long standing
for good military conduct with a rich heritage of martial tradition.
Time and again in the field of action, they achieved what the Veteran
French has thought to be impossible. In mud and water-filled trenches,
amid cloud of poison gas, struggling through barbed wire entanglements,
they performed their duties with skill and endurance.
Many came back home with bravery citations, bearing the scars of
many wounds and some with the Cross-de-guerre. They
add another chapter to the military history of this Town and their
deeds rank well with those who fought in the Civil War and at Bunker
The two who made the supreme sacrifice were James Herbert Ferguson
and Gilbert Duncan Fraser.
I remember Jimmy well. He went to school with me. He was the little
boy who sat in the front seat, freckle-faced with a shock of red
hair that was always combed but never stayed that way. Jimmy was
so responsive, with a warm heart and a ready smile. Whenever I gave
Jimmy an assignment he would look up and say But Miss Kilborn,
you know very well that is altogether too hard for me. I would
always reply, Yes, Jimmy, but one can always try. And
tried. Our ways parted and I forgot about Jimmy until some time
later I met him one day. Uncle Sam had made a fighting man out of
him. He had straightened Jimmys thin shoulders, filled out
the hollows in his cheeks. He had put a new firm spring in his step,
and a new gleam of confidence in his eye. He went to War and word
came back that he would never return. Once more Jimmy had tried,
and he had performed the biggest task. He had given his life to
this Country that last deep measure of devotion that Democracy might
Then there was Duncan. He had the making of a good service man from
the start. In school Duncans mind ran clear and true; orders
never had to be repeated and never any confusion when he carried
them out. Duncan had a sharp, orderly mind. He could think accurately
and also had a great capacity for work. He was trustworthy and careful
about all he did. One day, one unfortunate day, he was spotted by
the enemy and shot down by a machine gun in the Belleau Woods.
a report of the battle of Belleau Wood by George Pattulip as published
in the Saturday Evening Post, August 31, 1918:
Early in the fighting of June 13th
Pvt. Gilbert D. Fraser, 18th Co.,
5th Reg., U.S. Marines was shot
through the stomach. In spite of
the agony he suffered he kept up
a steady fire against a machine gun,
yelling lustily the while for more
ammunition until he dropped unconscious.
stone on the family lot in the Cemetery yonder bears this inscription:
Gilbert Duncan Fraser
18th Co. 5th Regiment
Shot Down in the Battle of Belleau Woods
Two trees were set out on our Church lawn; one for Duncan and
one for Jimmy; and Fraser Square on the lower part of the
Village was named for Duncan.
They may sleep in hallowed graves, which are carefully tended
by the grateful French women who breathe a prayer with every flower
they lay on their last resting places.
FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
[By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army]
ADDITIONAL NOTES on Merrimack NH During WWI:
Herbert Ferguson was born 13 July 1895 [his
birth record states 1897, son of Granville & Mary Agnes
(O'Conner) Ferguson, his father Granville dying 7 Jan 1905] in
Merrimack NH. He enlisted from Sullivan County NH during World
War I (he was living in Newport NH, working as a shoemaker at
W H. McElwain Shoe Co). He was the grandson of James W. &
Emily (Shaw) Ferguson who were living South Merrimack in 1910.
The grandfather, James W., was originally from Massachusetts,
and was a veteran of the Civil War, and a cabinetmaker.
Duncan Fraser was
the son of John D. & Mary Fraser who lived in Merrimack NH
between 1900-1910. By 1920 they had moved to Salem CT. Gilbert
was born August 1898 in Nova Scotia, Canada. He attended Merrimack
NH schools. During World War I he enlisted, in the state of Massachusetts,
in the United States Marine Corp, 5th USMC Regiment, 2nd Infantry
Division. He was killed 12 June 1918, and was awarded the French
Croix de Guerre. He is buried in Belleau France, in the Aisne-Marne
American Cemetery, in Plot A., Row 10, Grave 58.
If you have knowledge of other soldiers, male or female from
Merrimack NH who participated in World War I, please let me know,
providing as many details as you can and I will include their
New Hampshire sent many of its young men and women to serve in various
branches of the military during World War II. If you served, or
you know of someone who did, during World War II and they were from
Merrimack NH, provide details and I'll post their information here.
wooden plaque-like honor roll, a memorial to all the World
War II veterans of Merrimack stood for many years on the
lawn of the Lowell Memorial Library. It was removed to be
restored and never replaced.
Monument was erected in Last Rest Cemetery by the American
Legion Merrimack Post 98 and the Merrimack Veterans of Foreign
Wars Post 8641. Services are held here every year.
Veterans and/or Their Stories:
Weston L. Warriner - See "Dedicated
to a Fallen Hero: Warriner Playground, Merrimack New Hampshire"
- blog: Cow Hampshire
Berwin Webster - See "World
War II: When My Dad Was A MOM" - blog: Cow Hampshire
Marauders Bridge - See a movie about how
Merrimack NH's "Merrill's Marauders Bridge" came to
be named. (click on "View Segment")
NH OutLook - War
Stories (movies) involving New Hampshire and New Hampshire
& VIETNAM WAR***
you served in the United States military in the Korean or Viet Nam
War, or you know of someone who did, and you/they were from Merrimack
NH, provide details and I'll post the information here.
SP4 - E4 - Army - Selective Service
Date of Birth Jun 10, 1946
From: MERRIMACK, NH
Religion: ROMAN CATHOLIC
Marital Status: Single
of service 0 years
His tour began on Dec 1, 1967
Casualty was on Apr 15, 1968
In , SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
ARTILLERY, ROCKET, or MORTAR
Body was recovered
Virtual Wall of Memory
Panel 50E - Line 7
18, 1968, Nashua Telegraph, Nashua NH
Merrimack GI Killed in Action
Merrimack--Word has been received here of the death of a Merrimack
soldier killed in action in Vietnam, Monday. The victim is Army
Spec 4 Richard N. Rivard, 21 son of Mrs. Irene Bartisavitch of
11 Depot Street and Joseph Rivard of Ogdensburg, N.Y. He had entered
the service last May and for the past six months has been serving
with Battery B of the 49th Artillery in Vietnam. Rivard attended
Nashua schools and was a member of the St. Patrick's Church in
that city. Prior to entering the service he was employed at the
Nashua Foundry. Besides his mother and father, he is survived
by a step-father, John Bartisavitch of Merrimack, eight brothers
and four sisters. Further details are unavailable. The body is
expected to arrive in Nashua from Vietnam early next week. The
Anctil Funeral Home in Nashua is in charge of arrangements. new
Hampshire has now lost 123 men to the Vietnam war. The Merrmack
youth is the 108th to die in action. Fiften have met non-combat
Nashua Telegraph, April 26. 1968
Last Rites Set for Viet Veteran
Last Rites for Spec 4 Richard N. Rivard, U.S. Army, 21 of 11 Depot
Street, Merrimack who was killed in action on April 15 will be
held tomorrow. A native of this city and educated in Nashua schools,
he had been in the Army since May 1967, and in Vietnam for six
months. He was born in Nashua June 10, 1946, son of Joseph Rivard
of Ogdensburg NY and Mrs. John (Irene) Bartisavitch of Merrimack.
Before entering the service he had been employed at the Nashua
Foundry. He was a communicant of Our Lady of Mercy Church of Merrimack.
Besides his parents he is survived by his stepfather, John Bartisavitch;
eight brothers, Bernard Kulingoski of Hudson, Philip Kulingoski
of Nashua, Aime Rivard, Ronald Rivard and Robert Rivard of Nashua,
Roy Rivard of Ogdensburg NY, Walter Rivard of Nashua, John Bartisavitch
Jr. of Merrimack; four sisters: Mrs. Daniel (Edith) Higgins of
Merrimack, Mrs. Frederick (Claire) Lorman of Tyngsboro MA, Brenda
Bartisavitch and Patricia Bartisavitch, both of Merrimack; several
uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins. The Anctil Funeral
Home is in charge of arrangements.
April 29, 1968, Nashua Telegraph
Sp/4 Richard N. Rivard
A military funeral for Sp/4 Richard N. Rivard of 11 Depot St.
Merrimack who was killed in action in Vietnam on April 15 1968
was held Saturday morning from the Anctil Funeral Home followed
by a high Mass of requiem at Our Lady of Mercy, in Merrimack with
the Rev. Denis Downey, pastor, officiating. Serving as a guard
of honor were members of the American Legion from Merrimack and
American Legion of Nashua and Gold Star Mothers.
The bearers, bugler and firing squad were from Fort Devens, Mass.
Burial was in the family lot in Last Rest Cemetery in Merrimack.
The flag covering the casket was presented to his mother, Mrs.
you served in the United States military in the current IRAQ WAR,
or you know of someone who did, and you/they were from Merrimack
NH, provide details and I'll post the information here.
Faces of the
Fallen - New
Hampshire service members who have died.
MERRIMACK NH HISTORY LINKS: