Windham Life and Times August 26, 2022

The Lost Past-time of Pipe Smoking

According to Britannica, “The smoking of tobacco through a pipe is indigenous to the Americas and derives from the religious ceremonies of ancient priests in Mexico. Farther north, American Indians developed ceremonial pipes, the chief of these being the calumet, or pipe of peace. Such pipes had marble or red steatite (or pipestone) bowls and ash stems about 30 to 40 inches (75–100 cm) long and were decorated with hair and feathers. The practice of pipe smoking reached Europe through sailors who had encountered it in the New World.” Smoking pipes was very popular in America beginning in the colonial period well into the 1960’s. The smell of pipe tobacco is quite pleasant and smoking it was an acquired art.

     Both of my grandfathers smoked pipes at various times. I remember vividly, my grandfather Dinsmore, sitting in his old Windsor chair, in the double window of the kitchen, watching the world go by, as his wife prepared a meal; and on one special day, making the child that I was, a beautiful clay dog, deftly wrought with the help of a wooden match stick.

     Of course the pipe is making a bit of a comeback, however, it isn’t tobacco being smoked in them. It is doubtful that widespread social smoking will be seen as exciting and socially acceptable as it was in the smoker’s age when most everybody had a pack, or a pipe or a cigar. 

Windham Life and Times

Searles Castle

I used to have a nice view of Searles Castle from my spot on Cobbett’s Pond, but not anymore, with the exception of wintertime. The trees have grown up and totally obscure the view of the castle beside one small central tower. This is a Eastern Illustrating photograph near the time of the castle’s construction by Edward Searles. Indian Rock Road, bounded by stone walls, can be seen just behind the shed and piles of wood.  I wonder when the wooden observation tower disappeared?

Windham Life And Times August 12, 2022

Shady Shore Cottage – On the Porch

They Sit Together on the Porch

Wendell Berry

They sit together on the porch, the dark

Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.

Their supper done with, they have washed and dried

The dishes–only two plates now, two glasses,

Two knives, two forks, two spoons–small work for two.

She sits with her hands folded in her lap,

At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,

And when they speak at last it is to say

What each one knows the other knows. They have

One mind between them, now, that finally

For all its knowing will not exactly know

Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding

Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.

Windham Life and Times – August 5, 2022

Armstrong Shore

They’re almost all gone…the summer cottages that once lined the shore of Cobbett’s Pond. This is a beautiful view of Armstrong shore with the newly constructed summer cottages overlooking the water. Rural Oasis Says, “A neat little cottage was built by Mrs. Pallester of Lawrence on land leased from George F. Armstrong. There are still a couple of the original cottages left, but most are gone, removed to make room for more commodious year round homes. I remember the red cottage that was once located on the knoll where Richard and Megan Armstrong’s home is located today. The farms of the Windham Range are shown in the background. This photograph and others of the pond are available to purchase on beautiful archival paper from the Penobscot Marine Museum who has the Eastern Illustrating (postcard) plates.

Windham Life and Times

Hidden Valley Farm – The Vayens Family Part II

    These photographs provided by Bill  Vayens show Hidden Valley Farm in the 1950’s. I went to Center school with Heidi Vayens who is pictured in the photograph below. She is in the front row, right. According to “Rural Oasis” William Vayens was an organist at the Windham Presbyterian Church and served on the Windham school building committee. The photograph on the top right shows a Windham Grange Meeting in the town hall which was a farmers association founded in 1867.

The Vayens Family
Windham NH Grange Meeting

Windham Life and Times – July 22, 2022

Annette Vayens working in her new home.

The Hidden Valley Farm – Vayens Family Part 1

Bill Vaynes provided these really interesting photographs of the farm owned by his family in Windham from about 1944 until about 1967. Arthur and Annette Vayens purchased the Hidden Valley Farm on March 8, 1944 from Fred K. Duston of Salem NH. The date on the photograph is 1940 but the deed seems to confirm the date of 1944. The old farmhouse was in need of a lot of work and was located on an old gravel road, on the Windham/Derry line that ran between Fordway Extension and Beacon Hill Road.  The old deeds show that they paid One Thousand, Three Hundred Dollars. The photograph shows Annette sweeping out the home. They soon set about making improvements and turned the old farmhouse into a comfortable place for themselves and their family. The house was located near what is today the intersection of Gertrude and Hidden Valley Road near the brook. Bill says that they used to cool off there in the summer heat.   Oh, and did I mention, that for the 1,300 dollars they were granted approximately 106 acres of land with the house.

    Bill Says, “Our family moved from Chester back to Windham in the summer of 1959 and it appears we rented the house from my grandparents until July 15, 1964 when they sold most of the original farm to my parents, William and Lorraine Vayens. My grandparents retained portions that bordered Fordway Extension, including the corner lot at Fordway and Hidden Valley Roads where they had their mobile home. They later sold the remaining portion a few years later….” This property was subdivided and homes built by William Gordon on Hidden Valley, Gertrude, William, Thomas and Gordon Roads.  Bill’s mom, Lorraine Vayens, is still living and is 96 years old. 

Windham Life and Times – July 8, 2022

Moses Noyes – Zins Farm

Rural Oasis gives the history of this farm: “This property, presently owned by Iola and Margaret Zins Mailloux, is known as the Zins Farm. It was formerly Moses Noyes farm and was occupied by him in 1795. Although the exact age of the house is undetermined, a stone in the foundation was carved with the date 1775 which is possibly the time it was built. The Noyes owned the farm until 1881 when it was transfered to John Worledge. He kept the farm until 1907. Peter Zins bought the property in 1917.

     Morrison says about the Noyes family that, “The family is of Norman descent, and the name was formerly Noyes. The Noyes family of New England was largely, if not entirely, the descendants of James and Nicholas Noyes. These two brothers, sons of a minister in Choulderton, Wilshire Co., England. They emigrated to America in 1634, and Nicholas was the first of the band of emigrants, so tradition asserts, to leap upon the shore. He settled in Newbury Mass.; was born in 1614 and married Mary Cutting, of London, and died November 23, 1701 at 83 years… Moses was the ancestor of the Noyes family of Windham. He was born on December 16, 1743. He was a solider in the French, and also in the Revolutionary war,—in the latter serving as an orderly sergeant. At the time of the Lexington alarm, the door of his house was rudely burst open in the dead of night and rapid orders were given for him to go to town for powder and balls, as the British were coming. He mounted his horse, and without waiting to join any organization, went to hunt the British, as men hunt squirrels. He rode his horse as far as possible, then tied him to a tree, where he stood for thirty-six hours; then stealthily he crept along in his stocking feet, hanging upon the flanks of the enemy, and doing what execution he could while approaching

Concord. He lived to see the realization for his country, and the good which he contended for, made secure for coming generations. He first settled in Wilmington Mass., and married Lydia Carter, either of that town or Windham; it is uncertain which, as her parents lived in Windham; they had three children, one of whom died early. She died and he married 2nd, ___ Jaquith of Windham; died in town; he was married a third time, name not known. He came to Windham in 1786, located near Simpson’s mill, and January 30, 1795, he sold to George Simpson, of the Greenland family, and moved on the farm owned by his father-in-law Carter, and known as the James Noyes farm, on the plain, now owned by J.W.M. Woolridge, where he died March 12, 1824. 

   James was his son and married Abigail Lovejoy of Amherst, March 14, 1816. He “lived upon the home farm on the plains in the south part of town, and cared for his parents in their declining years. He lifted a heavy debt, and reared a family of eight children. He once said ‘I have worn these stones smaller, digging around them to raise corn and potatoes.’ His health was always good, and a physician was called to see him but once. In his old age his mind became much impaired, and he died December 26, 1870, aged 84. His wife “was a woman of cultivated tastes and sterling piety.” His son Moses “was a very active youth, and possessed more skill in training colts than in acquiring an education. He possessed a strong will, and what he undertook, he usually carried to completion. He was not satisfied with the quiet life of the farm, nor digging among the rocks of the old homestead. He became a large railroad contractor, ‘contracting to build miles of railroads, bridge rivers and tunnel mountains. (It is interesting that two, very large, railroad contractors both came from Windham: Moses Noyes and Milton Clyde.)

 “…Our story now shifts ahead to the late 1930’s when a car full of young people left the rutted dirt road and crashed into a stone wall near the Zins Farm (former home of J.M. Worledge). In the process of removing the car several stones from the wall were dislodged and one or two never replaced. Later that fall, as Gene Zins was walking by this wall to go hunting, he noticed what seemed like lettering on one of these rocks. He brushed the dirt from it and rediscovered the stone mentioned by Mr. Harris in his news item. Realizing it might be important he took it into his home for safekeeping. Later the local minister, Dr. Earnest R. Lacheman, became interested in the rock and started to do some research., hoping to determine the meaning of the writing…He reported that he presumes it is a boundary marker, possibly a state line, as Windham was once part of Haverhill MA. He believes that the lettering IP3 could mean either “Independent Province 3” or “Imperial Province 3.” He asserts that the figure four mentioned in the newspaper clipping is a normal error and the correct lettering is 1682-IP3.” (Rural Oasis) Windham was founded after the Crown settled the border dispute with Massachusetts in 1740 and large tracts of land here thereby lost their valid title. Robert Dinsmoor, one of the first three selectmen, ended up with thousands of acres contained in the newly invalidated Rev. Cobbett’s grant. The Nesmiths, Morrisons, Cochrans et. al. all received large grants of land in the new town.

Windham Life and Times – July 1, 2022

The S.L Prescott Farm

The S.L. Prescott Farm was located on the right hand side of Lowell Road, just before the Pelham line. It was owned by the Tokanels for many years and became what is now the subdivision of Presidential Estates. The farm was built by Abram Woodbury who was the son of Benjamin and Hannah (Smith) Woodbury of Londonderry and was born July 3, 1822. He came to Windham when about thirteen years of age. His mother married a second time, Simon W. Wilson, and lived on the farm now owned by Samuel L. Prescott near the Pelham line. Simon W. Wilson was born on August 1789. He died January 10, 1853 at 63 years five months of age. He was deaf and dumb. This was the farm on which Mr. Woodbury spent nearly forty years of his life. He served as a Selectman in 1852-3, ‘58, ‘59, ‘69, ‘70. He sold his farm to S.L. Prescott in May 1873, and now lives in Hudson NH.  “Samuel W. Prescott was born in Madison NH March 10, 1817. He married Sarah Dunlap, daughter of deliverance and Mary (Emerson) Brown, born April 5, 1825. He came to Windham in 1849. He bought the farm now owned by Elisha Worden about 1831, which was sold to Fred Varnum in the summer of 1865. He enlisted for three years in the forty-fourth Regiment of Mass Volunteers, nine months and was discharged on account of disability.  He died January 6, 1865 at 47 years, 9months and 27 days.  His son Samuel purchased this property from Abram Woodbury in 1873, He was a farmer and a butcher. He married December 21, 1870, Ella Almeda, daughter of James and Nancy (Rowe) Emerson.” Like so many old homes in Windham, the house and barn both burned to the ground.

Windham Life and Times – June 24, 2022

The Mill on Golden Brook

The mill on Golden Brook was powered by rights to, if I remember correctly, the top fifteen feet of water in Cobbett’s Pond. Morrison says, “The first grant of right to use the water’s of Cobbett’s Pond was to Samuel Senter for a grist mill. The first mill ever erected there was built by Alexander Wilson, a short distance above the head of the mill pond. This he sold to Samuel Senter in 1790, who built a grist and saw mill near the present site, and carried on business till his death, Feb. 11, 1833. Isaac Senter, about 1833, sold the mill to the father of Stephen Fessenden, of Boston. The latter with his family, came to town about this time, and soon made changes to the surroundings. A saw-mill and grist-mill were then there. He built a shingle and clapboard mill, then a building for Carding rolls, which was enlarged for the manufacture of twilled flannel and frocking. This business he carried on until his death, May 10, 1868. In 1871 the town voted not to increase the valuation of his property for purposes of taxation for seven years, in consequence of any additional buildings he might erect, etc. In 1871, he built the present commodious building.” According to Rural Oasis Neal manufactured cloth at the mill and used both water and steam power until the 1890s. At the time the dam on Golden Brook, which furnished power to the mill, gave way and was not rebuilt because transportation by horse drawn wagons over four miles to the railroad at Windham Depot have proven too expensive. Edwin Stickney acquired title to the property through a mortgage foreclosure and on January 18, 1900 he sold to the Gould Brothers who manufactured Witch Hazel products. Even today, with the buildings long gone, and the hum of machinery long silent,  it is a beautiful and interesting spot.

Golden Brook Road
Mr. Whipple one of the mill managers with two unidentified women.

Windham Life and Times – June 17, 2022

South Windham – School-house No 2

In the early days in Windham, each district has their own one room school-house. The south side of Windham was District No. 2. The school-house was located on what is now Range Road, on a hillside, between Cobbett’s Pond and Golden Brook Road. The school pictured was the fourth building to serve the district known as “the Row” in early times.  James W. Smith, a native of the district was architect and builder. The cost was $1,400. The Rev. Loren Thayer dedicated the building on December 8, 1853, and the town sold the building to William and Gertrude Hazlett in the 1940’s after the construction of the first Center School.

The hand-made award shown to the left was a “Roll of Honor” for the Spring of 1913. The Roll of Honor was for the students at the Number 2 District which was the one room school-house that once stood on a knoll, on Range Road, between Cobbett’s Pond Road and Golden Brook Road. The photograph above was taken right around the same date and the photograph has noted that the Number 2 School was also know as the “Elm Grove” School.