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.

 

Windham Life and Times – December 28, 2018

Windham and the Summit

Passengers arrive on the Cog Railway at the Summit House

Part 3 – Mattie Clark Remembered in Windham

In spite of spending most of her grown life travelling between Ormond Florida and the Summit of Mount Washington, Mattie Clark remained connected to Windham throughout her life. She grew up here on her  parents farm here and her exploits were written about by Will Harris in the Exeter Newsletter.

WINDHAM, August 25, 1899: “Miss Mattie A. Clark of this town holds the responsible position of manager and housekeeper of the Summit House on Mount Washington. Among the Clouds thus speaks of her in a recent issue: ‘Miss Mattie A. Clark, who first became connected with the Summit House in 1884, and who has so successfully managed it for several years past, is the manager this year, and that is saying quite enough to assure the Summit visitors of first class treatment. Both here and in Ormond Florida, where she is superintending housekeeper, Miss Clark has the most enviable reputation, and is known as one of the most capable woman hotel managers in the country.’ ”

October 11, 1900: “Miss Mattie A. Clark, the efficient manager of the Summit House on Mt Washington, is at home to remain until December, when she goes to Florida for the winter season at the Hotel Ormond where she is housekeeper.”

WINDHAM, April 21, 1903: “Mrs. Deborah E. Clark, 77 years of age, had a paralytic shock some days ago, and remains quite feeble. Her daughter, Miss Mattie B. Clark, well known as a hotel manager at the White Mountains and in Florida, came home from Florida as soon as the news of her mother’s illness reached her.”

July 8th, 1903 Clarke Funeral:

“For the first time in many years Miss Mattie A. Clarke has failed to be in attendance at the opening of  the Summit House to greet the visitors to whom she is so pleasantly known. After returning from Ormond, Fla., in the spring, Miss Clarke was detained at the bedside of  her mother, Mrs. Deborah Elizabeth Clarke, who after many weeks of  suffering died on Monday, July 6, aged 77 years. The funeral was held Wednesday at her late home at Windham Depot, N.H.  Mrs. Clarke was a bright and lovable woman, of  a most kind and motherly disposition. Besides Miss Clarke, her only other child was a son, who died in the Civil War. Her whole life was spent in Windham, and the family homestead was a welcome resting place for the daughter in the intervals between her summers on Mount Washington and her winters in Florida. Miss Clarke has the sympathy of her many friends, who hope in a few days to welcome her back to the Summit.” Among the Clouds

     Season Opening Notes: “The Mount Washington Railway, which sent its first train to the Summit this year the week of  June 15th, retains in its service nearly the entire personnel of  last season’s employees….An old guest at the Summit House will note but few changes here this season. The same homelike atmosphere pervades the whole establishment, and that the former excellence of  its service will be maintained this year is assured by the presence of  so many of  the heads of  departments of  long continued service. Miss Mattie A. Clarke, whose attention to visitors makes them to feel that they are personal guests, is still manager of  the house, with Mr. A. Frank Curtis as clerk. The cuisine will be prepared by Mr. A. J. Miller, the accomplished chef  of  1904, and Mrs. George Howland. Mrs. Myron Browley assists at the souvenir stand, Mr. Maurice J. Dineen is in charge of  the telegraph and post office, Mr. Park Horan of  the wine room, and Mr. Mark A. Davis of  Middlebury, Vt., fills the position of  head waiter, and James Powers, watchman. Nor should mention be omitted of  John Tice, bellman, who for several years has been an alert messenger upon the arrival of  each train…All in all, each and every details of  the hotel management has already received such careful attention that it is difficult to realize only a few days have intervened since the arrival of  the first train to the Summit, and that so much could be accomplished against such great odds of  location and climate.”

– Among the Clouds – Thu, Jul 13, 1905

 

Windham Life and Times – December 21, 2018

Windham and the Summit

A June Snowstorm Brings Christmas to the Summit. Among the Clouds, July 13, 1905.

Part 2 – June Christmas

Summit House Opens: “The formal opening of  every hotel is an important date in its calendar, and often the management endeavor to introduce some special attraction for the pleasure of  those guests first to arrive. Mount Washington – always zealous of  its individuality, this season outdid itself.”

“The Summit House was ‘opened,’ Monday, June 26th. The morning was rainy and dense clouds obscured the slightest vision of  the outside world. There was wisdom in this arrangement, for it was not the scenery but the completeness of  the hotel that was to be made manifest that day. The thermometer, which registered 46 in the morning, having heard a student waiter reciting “What is so rare as a day in June” was not forgetful of  its part of  the program and toward noon settled slowly to 38, and at 4 o’clock gave a decided novelty by sinking below the freezing point. Immediately the torrents of  rain became a driving snow storm, and throughout the night and Tuesday and until late Wednesday (6/29) Mount Washington was in the clutches of  a winter tempest, at time the roaring of  the wind and the beating of  ice and hail against the summit House was almost deafening. But within all was good cheer and comfort. “Dolly” the boiler was never more faithful, and steam whizzed through the pipes assuredly and without cessation, while the huge coal stores performed nobly the extra service required of  them. But those were days to be remembered, and the few guests who braved the mountain will not soon forget their experiences. After all, it is not the weather that decides the amount of  pleasure to be had in a visit to Mount Washington. ‘For the dissatisfied man all life is unsatisfactory, and for one that is contented the world is full of comforts, and for the cheerful man even the easterly wind is musical in the window crevices.’ ”

—Among the Clouds – Thu, Jul 13, 1905

“A June Christmas Tree: ‘On Wednesday evening, June 28th, the Summit House colony indulged in festivities unique in the history of  Mount Washington. The platforms that morning covered with snow and the whole cone of  the mountain glistening with frost work and ice suggested midwinter rather than a rare June day. Someone remarked that ‘it would be proper to observe Christmas.’ The idea was a popular one and immediately following breakfast preparations were continued throughout the day for an unusual festival. The manager of  the hotel, Miss Mattie A. Clarke, ordered a fir tree brought up from the Base, which through the kindness of  the Mount Pleasant House was later made attractive by many festoons of  pop corn. Then came the search for gifts. There were about thirty-five employees of  the Summit House and Mount Washington Railway to be remembered. Trunks, boxes, even coat pockets were divested of  their treasures and by nightfall the tree was overloaded with offerings. Nearly 150 presents were ready for distribution. What they may have lacked in value was made up in quantity. About 8 o’clock the parlor doors were opened. Mr. John Tice presided at the piano and a merry company was soon seated. Hardly had an exchange of  greetings been made when Mount Washington’s Santa Claus, Mr. Ed Colter, costumed in a style to make St. Nick himself  envious appeared on the scene to the  delight of  everyone save Leon (the Summit dog), whose association with the genial gentleman had heretofore been confined to an almanac interpretation of  seasons. Among the Clouds at this date not having commended an issue, one of  the staff  presented the initial number of  a possible evening addition for midwinter circulation “Among the Snow Flakes.” Next Santa ably assisted by Mark Lee, distributed the presents, a description of  which would be impossible. Then followed an excellent musical program, including solos by Mr. Chandler and Mr. Horan, and a chorus selected from the company. While the storm was furious, and together with the freezing temperature made all without wild and terrible, this little Summit House party – warm and comfortable, were living the sentiment of  Dr. Van Dyke ‘and best of  all along the way is friendship and mirth.’ ” —Among the Clouds July 13, 1905

Remember, we’re looking for a photograph of Mattie Clark for Tim Lewis. Does anyone know of one?

 

Windham Life and Times – November 30, 2018

Just for Fun!

The Derry Fairy

You’ll be glad to know that this is the last time I will be writing about fairies, however, I could not leave the subject without relating the story of the “Derry fairy.” If you’re ever looking for a fun book, check our Weird New England, by Joseph Citro, which is loaded with weird tales of the supernatural and the just plain strange. Before moving on to the Derry fairy, I have to confess about a story of alien abduction that terrified me as a child. This was especially true, since I once observed a UFO, moving straight up into the sky from Sandy’s Bowling Alley parking lot.  In evaluating the story of the Derry fairy, you have to wonder if it was really an alien siting of some kind.

Betty and Barney Hill with their dog Delsey.

Betty and Barney Hill were a couple that claimed they were abducted by aliens while travelling in the White Mountains, on September 20, 1961. Their ordeal was recorded in John Fuller’s best selling book, The Interrupted Journey, Two Lost Hours Aboard a Flying Saucer (1965). Theirs was the first widely reported case of alien abduction in the United States. The Hills lived in Portsmouth NH where he worked for the postal service and she was a social worker.

The Hills were returning from a vacation in Niagara Falls when they saw a bright light in the sky on Route 3 in Twin Mountain, so they stopped the car to take a closer look and to walk their dog. Betty looking through binoculars saw an odd shaped craft with flashing lights. The Hills returned to the road and as they travelled slowly through Franconia Notch near the Old Man of the Mountain they saw that the craft was moving closer. Then it was hovering 80 to 100 feet over the Hill’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air causing Barney to stop the car in the middle of the highway.  As they tried to escape, they heard buzzing noises which put them in a altered state of consciousness. They travelled nearly 30 miles but had no recollection of doing so. They made a sudden unplanned turned and their path was blocked by a fiery orb. They arrived at their home around dawn and started to experience odd impulses and sensations. There were shiny concentric circles on the car’s trunk that gave off magnetic pulses. Betty began to have vivid dreams of the encounter where the details of the abduction became known. They also described that they had experienced missing time. Under hypnosis, they remembered the encounter and how they were brought aboard the craft and physically examined by the aliens.

Descriptions of “little green men” date back to the twelfth century in the Green Children of the Woolpit. In 1899, there was a story published in the Atlanta Constitution about a little green skinned alien in a tale called the Green Boy from Hurrah. The first reference of little green men being extraterrestrials is found in the Daily Kennebec Journal in 1910 where they were described as Martians. “Green aliens soon came to commonly portray extraterrestrials and adorned the covers of many of the 1920’s to 1950’s pulp fiction magazines with pictures of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon battling green monsters.”

This is what we know about the Derry fairy, according to Joseph Citro: “Perhaps the crowned king of ugliness was a bewildering little gargoyle spotted in Derry, New Hampshire on December 15, 1956. A man was harvesting  Christmas trees in the woods when suddenly he looked up and saw something looking back at him silently. Whatever it was stood about two feet tall, and seemed neither human nor animal. Its green skin was wrinkled and looked like the folds of elephant hide. The high dome of his head supported floppy ears comparable to those of a bloodhound. Tiny holes bred into the skull where the nose should be, and its eyes were covered with what appeared to be a protective film. Its arms and legs were short, ending with stump hands and toeless feet” The witness was “Alfred Horne who lived on Berry Road in Derry in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He says he watched the miniature mystery for a good twenty minutes. Then, realizing no one would believe his odd tale, he decided to capture it as proof. When he lunged at the creature, it let out a terrifying screeching that the witness, rather than the beast, ran away in fear.” If you would like to learn more about the Derry fairy, you can watch the 30 minute video produced by GreyStar Paranormal Institute. It features the Derry historian Richard Holmes, as well as, a paranormal investigation in the woods.

So do you think Mr. Horne fabricated the story? Well, in 1981, a creature, almost identical to the one described by Alfred Horne, was spotted by five boys in Arnold Pennsylvania. One of the boys named Chris tried to capture it but it escaped. There was a full police investigation and all of the boys stories and descriptions matched exactly. Fate Magazine, published a story about the incident in May of 1982. It was entitled The Little Green Man Who Got Away.

 

Windham Life and Times – November 9, 2018

New England Fairies

Native American and Northern Irish Traditions

Maura Dionne’s horseshoe found in her yard in Windham.

So, for all of you folks who think that all of this business about fairies and other supernatural occurrences is nonsense and superstition, listen up. I had a nice note from Maura Dionne who lives near Haskell Pond, right here in Windham. She was in her yard planting spring bulbs. As she turned the soil and dug the holes her shovel hit something metallic, so she continued to dig it up. To her surprise, she found a horseshoe buried there.  While that doesn’t rise to the level of a supernatural occurrence, what happened next does. After she finished planting her bulbs, she went to collect her mail. Maura is not a regular subscriber to the Windham News, she normally reads it in the library. That very day she received a complimentary copy in the mail. She relates that, “as I walked to my mailbox intrigued by my find – I coincidently opened up the Windham Independent to your article.” It was the very issue in which my column discussed the tradition of lucky horseshoes.  The physicists tell us that most of the entire universe that surrounds us is empty space, and that there are multiple universes on which we can possibly travel. If that is true, the visualization of a lucky horse shoe, sent out into the multiverses, could certainly materialize, in a yard in Windham! Just a coincidence or the luck of the Irish?

As most of you know, the settlers of these parts of New Hampshire were the Scotch-Irish. Even today, in Northern Ireland, the belief in fairies runs strong. We learn on FolkloreThurday.com in January of this year that the BBC, in 1952, ran a series about “Northern Ireland’s fascination with the wee folk.”

“Only a few months ago we heard the Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae claiming that the dip in the motorway located in Kerry existed due to the presence of fairy forts disturbing the area.[1] Fairies were frequently blamed in Irish culture for events out of the ordinary or scenarios that were difficult to explain. An interest, curiosity, and belief in the fairies also holds an association with Irish cultural identity. Fairy belief is certainly associated with place and the natural environment. Jane Talbot cites her fascination of tree lore as the inspiration for her book ‘The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories’, basing this on the local fairy thorn tree on the farm where she lives with her husband in Ballymoney.[2] The MAC theatre in Belfast even decided to showcase a play based on Talbot’s book of stories on fairy lore. You may find it curious then that 2017 has actually much in common with the year of 1952. Of course, we have the Irish Folklore Commission collecting oral testimony and the British Broadcasting Corporation dedicated time to the collection of fairy lore in Northern Ireland, leading to a five-part series titled Fairy Faith in 1952.”

A Fairy Thorn tree along a hedge-row in Northern Ireland.

A Fairy Thorn tree in Ballymoney led a local woman to write a book about fairies? That’s interesting! The Dinsmores, lived in Ballymoney and most of the Scotch-Irish, who migrated to America in 1718 lived thereabouts. Did the legend of Tseinetto the fairy originate with the Scotch-Irish in Derry? The BBC program Fairy Faith salvaged the oral testimony of fairy belief surviving in Northern Ireland in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The program’s producer, Sam Hanna Bell, and folklorist, Michael J Murphy, recorded local people recalling their stories of fairy belief.[3] Murphy was the ethnographer who searched for first person testimonials across Northern Ireland and then Bell recorded these afterwards without interfering with scripting and re-recording the participants’ stories. They drew inspiration from the rural areas tracing folk stories and folklife.” So if the BBC felt it important to record for posterity, the fairy beliefs of Northern Ireland, there must have been very heart felt belief or folk memory among the residents there.

In a 2015 story, the BBC reported on the fairy tree in Annacloy, Northern Ireland. “When civil engineers removed a thorn tree blocking a new road between Downpatrick and Ballynahinch, it caused consternation among the residents of Annacloy who believed it to be the home of fairies. In our archive report from 1964, locals talk about the fate that will befall those who have disrespected fairy traditions.” You can find the link to this BBC interview from 1964 on my blog.

 

So what exactly is a fairy thorn tree? The site remarkabletrees.org states that, “Throughout the Northern Ireland countryside, there is a special tree – not one tree, but many, – standing alone, unharmed through generations, guarding its special place. It is the Fairy Thorn. Most are hawthorn, the white thorn with its May blossom… Fairy thorns may be associated with archaeological sites, such as the Neolithic chambered graves and wedge tombs. They may stand beside wells and springs, places known to early man and sometimes adopted by Christianity as Church sites or Holy Wells. In some rural sites there may be no apparent built artefact beside a fairy thorn, but the tree may guard a small rise in the ground – a fairy hill, place of entry to the under or other world of the fairy folk…Such special trees have a remarkable power about them. A gnarled thorn, often growing in harsh rocky ground, survivor of wind, weather, grazing, and many generations of man, has its own special strength. Stories still abound of misfortunes visited on those who risked disturbing such trees.”