Windham Life and Times – February 21, 2020

Windham Mid-Century Mode

Photograph of Witch Hazel fire from Rural Oasis

Articles from the Derry News | 1958-1959


“Dr. Edward Teller says the earth is warming up. Taking his stand in the controversy concerning the trend of the weather, Teller says that increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the air is warming our earth.

“Teller says accurate measurements show that there has been an increase of 2% in the carbon dioxide content in the air since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This has been caused by the heavy uses of fuels such as coal, oil, and its derivatives.”

“Unless there is a halt to the trend, Teller believes the earth will become overheated before the end of the twentieth century, He believes that when the amount of carbon dioxide has increased much further, ice caps on the Poles will begin to melt (they are already receding) and the amount of water in the oceans will increase, This will inundate such Port cities as New York and such countries as Holland.”

“The answer? Teller believes the answer is the use of nuclear fuel. The Associate Director of the University of California’s Radiation Laboratory says that we must put nuclear fuel to work powering electrical plants which otherwise would consume coal, or oil or other carbon dioxide producing fuels.”


“Windham held the line on taxes this year. In announcing the 1959 rate at $54 per Thousand, the same as 1958, Selectman pointed out that the line was held despite a sharp increase in state and county tax figures. A mild building boom which added $145,000 to the town’s valuation helped off-set increased costs. Veteran’s exemptions are $107,500 in comparison with $94,400 a year ago.  Total valuation is $2,263,000.”


“A delegation from Derry planned to join a group from Salem and Windham in attending a conference relative to the route of the new Interstate Highway scheduled to be held at 2 P.M. today at the office of State Highway Commissioner John Morton in Concord. Public hearings on the highway route have already been held in Salem and like meetings are expected to be conducted in Derry shortly. Planning to attend the conference in Concord are at least two members of the Derry Board of Selectmen and most legislators from Derry who will be in Concord for legislative sessions earlier in the day.”


“APRIL 23, 1959: A historic landmark on Route 28 in Windham went up in smoke early Wednesday morning when the old Witch Hazel Factory was discovered ablaze about 4 a.m. and was practically destroyed before the fire was brought under control about 8 a.m. Fire Departments from Windham and Salem responded.”

“The fire was believed to have started in the small building later spreading to the large building. According to the owners, Kachadorian and Bartanian, who used the building for the manufacture of fruit and vegetable boxes and crates, loss was estimated at $25,000, the building full of new stock for the coming season.”

“According to older residents the building has a long and interesting history. It was believed to have probably been a saw mill originally but for many years, from about 55 years ago to shortly before World War I, it was operated by the Gould Witch Hazel Company,  which cut brush with permission of local woodland owners and distilled the processed liquid obtained from it. Other sources say the building was moved from South Windham about the time of the railroad’s coming in the 1880’s and then it was used as a woolen mill.”

“The full apparatus of the Windham department was at the scene with firemen under the direction of Fire Chief James Brown. Some of the equipment returned to the fire station after the blaze was brought under control. The spectacular fire attracted a large number of spectators to the scene and traffic was up on 28, State and local police were up for a time on busy the busy Route on the scene promptly to keep traffic moving.”

“APRIL 30, 1959: BURNED MILL DATES BACK 109 YEARS: “Research has revealed that the Old Witch Hazel Factory which burned in Windham recently dates back to as early as 1850. From Morrison’s History of Windham New Hampshire, page 188.”

“‘BROWN’S MILL, 1850 This saw-mill and grist mill was started in April 1850, by John Noyes Brown, located in the east part of town, on the Turnpike , (now Route 28) and Flat Rock Meadow Brook. It was burned in 1871, and rebuilt by John S. Brown in 1877.’ Morrison also gives names of various owners. In recent times this place was known as Meserve’s Mills, and more recently as the Witch Hazel Factory.”

The photograph above shows Charles E. Harrington and Ernest Harrington delivering a load of witch hazel to the Gould witch hazel distillery on the turnpike. Carefully selected green twigs were boiled in huge vats and them mixed with alcohol.

The Indians thought that witch hazel had magical curative properties because it blossomed at the wrong time of the year. If you want to see witch hazel blossoming in November, it can be seen at Griffin park between the walking path and the stone wall of Johnson’s farm.

EVENING WHIST: Eight and a half tables were in play at the Neighborhood Club evening whist on Thursday. Mrs. Pearl Urquhart won both the half score and the door prize. Muriel Bistany won the special….”




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