Windham Life and Times – September 17, 2015

100 Years Ago in Windham- W.S. Harris

“WINDHAM, September 14.— Frank Smith, who had worked several years past for G.W. Johnson and previously for other farmers on the Range, died suddenly Saturday, perhaps from the effects of drinking too much ice water during the hot days of last week. He complained of being unwell Saturday noon, and about four o’clock he was found lying on the hay in the barn with life extinct. He had a married son living in Andover, Mass., and the burial was there.”

York, Maine 1915

York, Maine 1915

“William C. Landis, of Lakeport, spoke at the church here Sunday evening, recounting in an interesting way some of his experiences as a missionary of the American Sunday School Union. He showed the need for such work in the rural sections of New Hampshire and some of the encouraging results. In the afternoon he had been at Canobie Lake helping reorganize the Sunday School at the Searles Chapel.”

“Mrs. Worledge and children are at home after their summer at Hampton Beach. The Worledge and Cochran families had a pleasant auto trip to York Beach on Friday.”

Miss Clyde's Dahlias

Miss Clyde’s Dahlias

“Miss M. Esther Clyde, sister of our postmaster, living half mile from Windham Depot in Derry, has a truly wonderful display of dahlias, having over one hundred distinct varieties.” (It must have been the cow manure that made them grow so tall. I have never seen dahlias growing at such a height as in the photograph at right.)
“Henry Earl Gilson, one of our bright boys, and son of Henry Y. Gilson. Goes tomorrow to Durham to enter the State College. He was graduated from Pinkerton last June.”

The Gilson Place, Windham, NH

The Gilson Place, Windham, NH

“From Salem Depot one can go to Lawrence by train, trolley, or jitney bus. From Windham Depot a passenger wishing to be taken to the Center, a distance of less than three miles over a good road, interviewed an owner of an auto who lived near. He wanted $1.50 for the job. He didn’t get the job.”

Windham Life and Times – September 10, 2015

100 Years Ago in Windham NH – W.S. Harris in the Exeter Newsletter

The Nesmith Homestead Windham NH during the period of this article.

The Nesmith Homestead Windham NH during the period of this article. Still standing on North Lowell Road

WINDHAM, September 7.— Mr. & Mrs. Horace Berry, as usual, attended the annual forestry meetings in the White Mountains, held this year at the Profile House.
James Upham has returned to his father’s cottage here, after serving through July and August as information clerk at the Profile House. He visited the summit of Mount Washington recently and found in the ashes of the Tip-Top House a spoon and fork which he values as souvenirs.

Mrs. Elizabeth C. (Smith) Nesmith, widow of Jacob Alpheus Nesmith passed her 84th birthday on September 3. She is one of our most esteemed and deserving old ladies, always having a genial smile and hearty handclasp for her friends. Flowers and other simple gifts helped to make the day a pleasant one. Her only son Arthur Nesmith, with his wife, lives in the other part of the house and tills the ancestral acres.
The three “Armstrong sisters” crossed Cobbett’s Pond one fine afternoon of last week to visit friends on the North Shore. This trip was a special delight to Miss Mary, who has been a partial invalid since 1877, and in all the years since, although living near the pond, has not been upon its waters. Passionately fond of nature, the beauties of the day and locality were deeply enjoyed by her.

The fiftieth wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Caleb B. Clark was fittingly and pleasantly observed on Monday afternoon by a reception at their home in the Depot district. Relatives and friends to the number of about sixty attended, giving evidence of their regard for this worthy couple. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Demeritt, of Houston, Texas; Mr. and Mrs. Otis Clark of Schenectady N.Y., and others from West Medford, Haverhill, Mass., Derry and elsewhere. The fact that the observance fell upon Labor Day doubtless prevented some from attending. The house was decorated with golden rod and with choice flowers sent by friends. The customary refreshments were served. Letters from friends not present were read by Mrs., A.L. Dunton, and a presentation was made by Rev. Mr. Dunton of goodly sums in gold, contributed by many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Clark in town. Other valuable gifts were received.

Caleb Clark was born in this town March 6, 1841, and has always lived here. He is a substantial farmer and highly respected citizen, one faithful to every trust and duty. Besides holding minor offices, he has served the town as Selectman seven years, 1887-90 and 1912-14. For many years he has been among the most constant members and attendants of the Presbyterian Church at the Center, of which he was made a ruling elder in 1899. Elder Clark is descended from Samuel Clark, who with his brother George settled in Windham when it was a wilderness, coming from Londonderry, where their father, James Clark, was an early settler and elder of the church. His wife, whom he married September 6, 1865, was Nancy Ballou of Derry, a descendant of Rev. James MacGregor, the first minister in Londonderry. They have three children….” W.S.H.

Windham Life and Times – July 16, 2015

A Tribute to the “Common” Day Lily


Well, they’re here again, and I really can’t go another year without giving a big shout out to the magnificent orange glow that appears in July and always makes me smile, even on the busiest of summer days. You can spot them virtually everywhere; blooms held high, along the roads, beside stone walls, reaching out along the lake shore or in front of a great old antique home. These aren’t the stuck up high-breds with there fantastic pallets, ruffled edges and giant blossoms. No these are the dependable, sturdy, gritty, ancient, and beloved Tawny Day lily (H.fulva).

Day-lilies arrived in Europe from China, Japan, Korea and Eastern Siberia, during the 16th century, and by the 17th century had crossed the Atlantic to North America. It is also supposed that America sea-captains involved with the Asian trade brought them home with them. Hemerocallis is Greek and roughly translates at “beautiful for a day. “Crude homesteads being carved out of the forests in the America were beautified by transplants from the Old Country and Asia. They were the carefree choice of pioneers who had no time to spend fussing with ornamentals. The appeal of the daylily with its vigor and rock hardiness, along with its ease in propagating, made it the perfect perennial. The plant also multiplies well and is seldom bothered by insects or disease and spread into large clumps.” Best of all, you can dig some out of the clump and they easily grow in their new locations. They are without question the “easy” of the flower world but just because their easy, doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful.


Of the dozen plus Hemerocallis wild species, two were definite favorites: the Tawny Daylily (H.fulva) and the Lemon Day lily (H.lilasphodelus). Both were treasured possessions at the turn of this century. Many escaped from abandoned homesteads and old cemeteries, naturalizing themselves with ease and are seen by some as weeds or an “invasive” threat. They grow in both full sun and in shaded areas happily opening in the morning, each blossom lasting for a day.

The writer of the “River Bliss” blog captures their nature, “Daylilies take full advantage of their day in the sun by remaining in bloom for the duration, whereas delicate chicory flowers close around mid-day when the sun is most intense. I stopped in my tracks to listen to the advice the day-blooming flowers offered about making the most of a brief existence. They said:

Quick! Dry your eyes!
There’s so much living to do.
Get to it!
The day is young,
and the day is short.

Wake up and engage it.
Don’t waste a moment
Wallowing in longing or regret.
You have this one day to work with
the material of Here and Now
So make the most of it.

“How interesting that the Chinese name for the daylily, xuan-cao, can be translated as “forget-worry herb” or “the plant of forgetfulness” because it was believed to alleviate worries by causing one to forget. When I stopped to connect with the essence of the day-lilies, I forgot mine!”


So join me for the next few days and enjoy the humble yet noble Tawny Day-lilies, as they freely bloom for your sole enjoyment. Each bloom, shining brightly in crimson orange, for just one day. Day-lilies are also a reminder that it is approaching mid-summer and that its time to enjoy what’s left of New England’s fleeting warmth while it lasts.


Windham Life and Times – May 28, 2015

Canonbie, Canobie, Cannobie

Pictured above in Gilnockie Tower, located 2.3 miles north of Canonbie Scotland, built by Johnnie Armstrong, around 1520. The Lochinvar, made his escape through Cannobie in Sir Walter Scott’s poem

Pictured above is Gilnockie Tower, located 2.3 miles north of Canonbie Scotland, built by Johnnie Armstrong, around 1520. The Lochinvar, made his escape through Cannobie in Sir Walter Scott’s poem

Part 1: My Apologies to Leonard Morrison

I’ve written about how the name “Canobie” Lake came to be, several times in this column, and I’ve always assumed the Leonard Morrison made a mistake with the spelling. In fact, this town in the borders lands of Scotland is now known as Canonbie, however, I’ve recently discovered that this was not always the case. I found an old postcard on which it said that the view was of Canobie, Scotland. This prompted me to do some research to see if there was more than one “Canobie.” This is what I discovered:

Canonbie is a small village in Dumfriesshire within the District Council Region of Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland, six miles south of Langholm and two miles north of the Anglo-Scottish border. It is on the A7 road from Carlisle to Edinburgh, and the River Esk flows through it. There are frequent references in older documents to it as Canobie. (Miller, Hugh (1871). Leading Articles on Various Subjects. p. 245.) So there it is, our beloved and accurate, Windham historian, Leonard Morrison, did not make a mistake. Canonbie was known as Canobie in the 19th century, when, the Boston & Maine Railway station was built and Policy Pond was renamed. So Mr. Morrison, I apologize for not trusting in you.

Canonbie Parish had an Austin (Augustinian) priory at Hallgreen, dating back to about 1165. The priory was destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII after the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. A grassy mound in a field near the present day church is believed to be the only remnant of the ruins. “The priory is important in that it is the source of the name Canobie. CANOBIE, or CANONBIE, a parish, in the county of Dumfries. An ancient priory here is supposed to have given the name to this place, Canobie being probably derived from the Saxon Bie, or By, signifying “a station,” and thus interpreting the word “the residence of the canons.”

Remains of a Roman signal station can be found on rising ground near the old Gilnockie station; and ruins of famous mediaeval strongholds are at Hollows and Harelaw; remains of other mediaeval strengths are at Mumbyhirst, Auchenrivock, Hallgreen, Woodhouselees, and Stark.

Over the coming weeks, you’ll know the whole story of Canobie. You’ll hear how this town on the Scottish borders was immortalized in a poem by Sir Walter Scott, “There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,” and you’ll learn about the exploits of Johnnie Armstrong, the laird of Gilnockie. There really is much more to the name Canobie, than you’ve ever imagined and is it a very appropriate name for the beautiful lake shared by Windham and Salem.

The Canonbie church was built around 1820, near the site of the original priory from which Canonbie took its name.

The Canonbie church was built around 1820, near the site of the original priory from which Canonbie took its name.

Windham Life and Times – April 9, 2015


Simpson Mill 1

Simpson Mill as it looked in about 1898.

The photographs above and below were taken in 1898 and shows Simpson’s Mill. Joseph Simpson, “a fine carpenter and millwright being very ingenious” built a mill here in 1788-89 which was owned by shareholders. Thomas W. Simpson, who was no relation to Joseph, operated a grist-mill, saw-mill and lumber-mill here for much of the 19th century. He improved and added to the buildings. When the Simpsons operated the mill, the pond was known by the name of Simpson’s Pond.

As most of you know, the Deer Leap conservation land abuts this pond. According to Morrison, ”Deer Ledge lies north of J.W. Simpson’s pond, and is situated on the high, romantic, and precipitous sides of the hill of ledges. Its name is derived from the traditional fact, that an Indian drove a deer over the precipitous sides of this ledge into the water. The pond was called Deer-ledge Pond. I don’t know how the name morphed from Deer Ledge to DeerSimpson Mill3 Leap but it did at some point.

“The pond and island were sold to John Drinan in 1894. The right to cut and carry away all wood and timber on the island was reserved to the past owner, Thomas W. Simpson. When the pond and land were sold to the Moeckel family, the name of the pond changed once again to Moeckel Pond. There is an ongoing effort to rebuild the dam. Tax deductible donations marked for “Moeckel Pond” can be sent to Windham Endowment, PO Box 4315, Windham, NH or donate via Check out all the Friends of Moeckel Pond information on Facebook at  https://www.facebook./friendsofmoeckelpond

The foundation of Simpson's Mill with Mill-Stones in  water.

The foundation of Simpson’s Mill with Mill-Stones in water.