Windham Life and Times – July 21, 2017

100 Years Ago—Summer of 1917

John E Cochran’s home on North Lowell Road as it appeared before it burned to the ground in the summer of 1917.

Tragedy, Accidents and Fires during the Summer of ‘17

“June 27, 1917: Monday night shortly before midnight , the house of Town Clerk and Selectman John E. Cochran near the center of town was destroyed by fire with most of its contents. The barn and connected sheds were saved, and from the house the town records and a small amount of clothing  and furniture. It was a narrow escape from a still more serious catastrophe, as Mrs. Cochran had retired later than usual and had not fallen asleep  when she was startled by the smell of smoke and discovered the roof of the ell near the kitchen stove was all ablaze. Mr. Cochran and son, Olin, were quickly aroused from slumber , and if help had been near the flames could probably have been extinguished. Attempts to reach neighbors by means of a telephone failed and before help arrived it was impossible to rescue much of the house. The origin of the fire is mysterious. As the chimney from which it must have caught was a new one, built only a few years ago, and there had been only a small fire in the kitchen stove early in the morning. The house was a fine old mansion built by James Park many years ago and occupied since 1871 by the Cochran family. It was filled with furnishings, many of which money cannot replace. Every kindness has been shown by the neighbors to the afflicted family, who have found temporary house-keeping quarters in the parsonage nearby.”

“July 10, 1917: A shocking accident occurred just below the Center on the Lowell Road one evening last week. Eben Tallant, of Pelham, was going toward home, riding one horse and leading another, when he saw the light of a motorcycle on which Mark Haskell and Carroll Webber, two young men of the West Windham Road, were approaching at rapid speed. The cycle crashed into the horse that Mr. Tallant was riding and a general mix-up resulted. All were considerably injured; the horse had to be killed; it is not yet known whether Mark Haskell will recover fully or whether injury to his spine will be permanent. It was a very unfortunate occurrence, and all concerned have the sympathy of the community.”

“July 24, 1917: A second terrible motorcycle accident occurred in town Friday evening about 10 o’clock, which caused the death of one of our best and most esteemed young men. Oscar F. Low and Miss Sadie Bloomfield, the latter a nurse at Tower Hall in Derry, were returning from a ride on the former’s motorcycle, and when near the witch hazel factory in the east part of town, (Rt. 28,) collided with an auto truck which it is said had only one head-light lighted, thus deceiving the driver of the cycle. Miss Bloomfield escaped with minor injuries and was taken to Tower Hall. Mr. Low was terribly injured and died while being taken to the Lawrence hospital without gaining consciousness.”

“August 7, 2017: Another serious calamity is to be recorded. The buildings of Eugene K. Gross, situated mid-way between the Center and the Junction were struck by lightning in the hard shower of Thursday August 2, and burned down. The bolt struck the barn, in which was a large quantity of last year’s hay and so much of the present crop as had been harvested. Mr. Gross was taking a nap in the house at the time and was the only occupant of the premises, his wife being on a visit in Westboro Mass. Workman on a neighboring farm saw the smoke and roused Mr. gross. Nothing was saved from the barn or the shed connecting the barn and house, the losses including a horse and calf, all farming tools and a complete set of carpenter’s tools. From the house practically everything was saved except the kitchen stove. The former house of Mr. Gross, on the same farm but not the same location, was struck by lightening and burned in June, 1898. The new house was made out of a long carriage house that was not burned at that time.”


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