Windham Life and Times – February 15, 2019

An Afternoon at the NH Historical Society Museum

The notorious, brilliant, womanizer, Benjamin Thompson, depicted in a painting with his wife, daughter and slave Dinah. He would soon abandon his American wife. One of the beautiful signs at the New Hampshire Historical Society, was a J. Stickney tavern sign from Concord, NH. The beautiful sign depicts the Indian Grand Sachem King Phillip, also known by his native American name of “Metacom or Metacomet.”

My wife is on a quest to find cheap things to do close to home…and thank God for the Hippo, because it really is the guide to what is happening in New Hampshire. This past Saturday, she took us to Concord for a nice lunch at the Barley House and a trip to a sign exhibit taking place at the New Hampshire Historical Society Museum.  The signs were great, but there were many other interesting things on display. My favorite was “White Mountains in the Parlor: The Art of Bringing Nature Indoors,” which included many works by the White Mountain School painters. There were several paintings by Benjamin Champney whose name has become synonymous with the White Mountain art of the nineteenth century. The landscapes of the mountains were sweeping and beautiful. There was also a well attended lecture taking place about how the railroads influenced New Hampshire and the grand hotels of the White Mountains.

One of the oil paintings that fascinated me was  “Benjamin Thompson’s Farewell.” by Daniel G. Lamont. What was interesting to me is that it is a rare visible example of how prevalent slavery was in New Hampshire. The caption states “Painted from memory, this paining was commissioned by Sarah Thompson, Countess Rumford, showing her parents Sarah Walker Rolfe Thompson and Benjamin Thompson, in a British army uniform, seated at a table in 1775. A loyalist, Benjamin Thompson is about to leave his family with British military forces evacuating New Hampshire. Sarah Thompson as baby is held by the Thompson’s African-American slave, Dinah, standing in the background…”Little did I comprehend what I didn’t know until I came across the book, “Sex and the Scientist, The Indecent Life of Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford. (1753-1814) In it we learn more about the importance of Dinah in the life of Sarah Thompson.”

“…This would not be the paternal aunt to whom she went when she was four but a female slave in the household name Dinah, who became Sally’s surrogate mother, spoken of with lifelong affection. And who had fairly exclusive care of her. This a slave nurtured the child and also smoothed over things for her. All her life, being sensitive, Sally had the need to go to someone to perform this same function and give the emotional support the enslaved black woman had provided. By the time Sally had the wistful family portrait painting, in which her mother and father were placed in the foreground and Dinah held her infant self, the America South was sentimentalizing slavery, which fed into Sally’s nostalgia and the artist’s stereotypical plantation mammy depiction so at odds with the parents, who look like cutouts of New Englanders.”

Thompson had met his wife in Concord NH. “Apprenticeships in the importing trade and the study of medicine, too, absorbed much of his young life until at the age of 19 he became a schoolmaster in Concord (earlier called Rumford) N.H. There he met and married a wealthy widow, Mrs. Sarah Rolf, who was also the daughter of Reverend Timothy Walker. In this position of influence, young Thompson met Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire who was impressed enough to name him Major in the 2nd Provincial Regiment.” After this painted scene, Thompson would sail back to England and abandon his wife and child in America. He would eventually reconcile with his daughter Sally  (Sarah?).

On Saturday, March 9, 2019 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Genealogy Workshop: The Scots-Irish in New England.

“Three hundred years ago, in 1719, a group of sixteen Scots-Irish families established a settlement in Nutfield (later Londonderry), N.H. They were part of a wave of Scots-Irish immigration to New England that would bring thousands of people to the New World. In New Hampshire, the Londonderry settlement became a jumping-off point for what was essentially a Scots-Irish invasion in the eighteenth century.  Join us for a day-long program with special guest speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation from Belfast, Ireland, to learn more about the history of the Scots-Irish and conducting genealogical research on Scots-Irish families. Time will also be set aside for Q&A and for some tips on overcoming brick walls in your research. In addition, the Society will present for viewing—for one day only—the Shute Petition, which initiated the Scots-Irish exodus to New England.” Space is limited, and registration is required. The cost is $75 for New Hampshire Historical Society members and $125 for nonmembers. The day we were there new memberships were being offered for $34.99 or half price.

 

 

Windham Life and Times -January 25, 2019

Harvesting Ice in 1944 in Windham NH

ice-markewicz

Harvesting ice on Castle Hill Road in Windham NH

I was sad to hear that one of Windham’s long time residents had passed away recently. Mary Glance was very kind to me, in providing photographs of her family’s farm on Castle Hill Road for my book. I thought with the sub-freezing temperatures it was appropriate to show a ice harvesting scene from the Markewich farm from 1944. The men sport a great L.L. Bean look. Ice harvesting was an important part of rural life. The farmers harvested ice to keep their milk cold until it could be delivered. Ice was harvested on Cobbett’s Pond and Canobie Lake and there were ice houses along the shore of both lakes. Even after the advent of electric refrigerators, many camps on the lakes and ponds still used ice. For those of you who are interested, they have an ice harvesting day, using the old ice harvesting machinery every winter on Squam Lake. https://www.squamlakes.org/news/annual-ice-harvest-squaw-cove Also found something else that was interesting. The public can rent canoes and kayaks from the Squam Lake Association Center, 534 US Route 3, Holderness, NH. …No not in the winter! Every year, there are fewer and fewer “old-timers” left… you know who you are

Windham Life and Times – January 18, 2019

Windham and the Summit

Part 6– Conclusion

Mattie Clarke was one of those independent woman who grew up in Windham in the nineteenth century and flourished both locally and in the wider world. Woman like Mary Bradish Titcomb, Margaret Hughes Berry, Julia Baker and many others. Mattie Clark had a demanding career both on the Summit of Mount Washington and in Ormond, Florida. Any many very successful men trusted her and sought her out for her managerial skills. She used those skills and improvised a flourishing hotel in the rustic “Tip-Top House,” after the first Summit House burned in 1908. She was there again to manage the New Summit House when it opened in 1915.

Mattie Clark’s Gravestone on the Cemetery on the Plain, Windham NH.

Not only did Mattie Smith have and interesting career but she also invested her money well, no doubt gaining insight from the many leading businessmen she dealt with and served as guests. “She was on her way north from Ormond, Florida in 1933 when sickness overtook her while in the Buttonswood Beach section of  Warwick, Rhode Island and she died at 81.”

Tim Lewis in his research provided information regarding her will. “Clarke bequeathed her farm in Windham; a cottage on Orchard Lane in Ormond Beach known as the “Coacoochee Cottage;” stock from American Telephone and Telegraph, Swift and Co., Libby; Liberty Loan Bonds; Over $11-thousand dollars to friends; a thousand dollars to both the Ormond Union Church and the Colored Library of  Ormond, the latter to be invested to provide money for purchasing books. Two thousand dollars to the Windham Cemetery to be invested for perpetual care of the family plot. The Windham Library, Presbyterian Church, the New Hampshire Orphans Home in Franklin, the White Orphans Asylum in Jacksonville, Florida and the Nashua Protestant Home for Aged Women all received money from Miss Clarke.”

A path in Santa Lucia Plantation, Ormond Beach, where Mattie Clarke owned her cottage.

 

Windham Life and Times – January 11, 2018

WINDHAM AND THE SUMMIT

The Armstrong Homestead on Londonderry Road, was adjacent to the Clarke Farm.

 

Eugene Armstrong

Eugene Armstrong was I believe, a cousin of  Mattie Clarke, her mother being Deborah Armstrong. The Armstrong and the Clarke families lived on adjoining farms on Londonderry Road, in Windham. You may notice that I have changed the spelling of Clarke by adding an “e” to the end as carved on the family gravestone, not as spelled in Morrison’s History of Windham which eliminated the “e.”

Eugene Armstrong owned the store at Windham Depot for a number of years. In an Exeter Newsletter column written by William Harris . October 1, 1915, it says, “Eugene C. True of Derry, has bought of Eugene W. Armstrong the store, property and business at the Depot which the latter has conducted for a few years past. It is the stand formerly for a long period occupied by the late Edwin N. Stickney. Mr. True has been employed for some years in the furniture store of L.H. Pillsbury & Son, in Derry and is highly spoken of by those who know him.”

We also learn in The News-Letter, in November of 1912 that, “Fred S. Webster, Republican, was chosen representative by 60 votes to 41 for Eugene W. Armstrong, Democrat. Not known to me, was that Eugene Armstrong was also an engineer on the Cog Railway on Mount Washington. He was born in Windham on December 23, 1865. Tim “Jitney Jr.” Lewis says that he worked on Mount Washington from 1885 through 1908. “Eugene Armstrong is noted as a Mount Washington Railway engineer in 1907. ‘Engine No. 4 of the Mount Washington Railway, which has been in the shops at the Base for repairs, came up with freight on Saturday (August 17, 1907) for its trial trip and was put in regular service the same night, in charge of Engineer Armstrong.’ ” He was 12 years younger than his neighbor (cousin) Mattie Clarke. He worked twenty-four summers on the Mount Washington Railway and spent six winters working for Anderson and Price at the Ormond Hotel in Florida. He purchased the store in the Depot in 1910. He passed away on August 24, 1925 in Windham.

…Still looking for photographs of Mattie Clarke and Eugene Armstrong for Tim Lewis.