The Monadnock Folklore Society presents Scots Gaelic Singer – Jennifer Licko Wednesday, July 15 – 7:30 PM Nelson Town Hall Admission $12/$9(senior, student , or in advance) Jennifer Licko, a Scots Gaelic singer living in Brazil, but originally from North Carolina, is an International touring artist featured on national radio in the US, and a […]
In the woods off Old Stoddard Road lies the site of the home farm of Stephen Osborn. All that remains today is an extensive array of building foundations that once housed Osborn and his extended family. The old road leading there from Old Stoddard Road bisects the building sites with some surface foundations on the right (probably a barn and a house) and the main house and a large barn attached to the house by an ell on the left. Each site has its own well. Stephen Osborn, like so many citizens in Packersfield in those days could be characterized as a farmer, everyone did that to some extent, or as a craftsman, many made or grew things to trade with their neighbors, but also as a manufacturer of finished wooden products. His enterprise made him a relatively prosperous man.
Further down the same old road, and on Bailey Brook, is the site of his sawmill. Built at the top of a waterfall some twenty-five feet high, there is a partially destroyed dam across the brook at the top of the falls. A depression in the top of the dam marks the location of a wooden sluice that once carried water to the top of an approximately 15’ diameter overshot waterwheel. The wheel was mounted on a shaft that was carried between the two large stone piers. That was connected to an elaborate system of shafts and gears to operate reciprocating saws located in a building to the left of the piers as you look down from the dam.
When the dam gate was closed, a small millpond was created and the water level raised so water could be diverted down the sluice to power the mill. There was not enough capacity behind that dam to store water for dry seasons. Without a substantial reservoir of water, the mill would have been too seasonal to be economically successful. Water to run the mill more reliably was stored behind a stone dam some 400 yards upstream. Water released from this dam was channeled by a stonewall along the stream bank assuring that water for sawing arrived in a timely manner and with some force. Osborn established the mill early in the 19th century.
Stephen Osborn was born in 1771 and married Rachael Baker of Marlborough, Massachusetts in 1792. They seem to have moved to Packersfield with a family of four children in 1799 or1800. The earliest record of them in Packersfield is a tax roll entry in 1800. They were taxed for one cow. A few years later they were taxed for one half acre of tillage in addition to a few farm animals. Osborn was a modest farmer to say the least. He was not a landowner until 1815 when he bought the farm of 104 acres from Zachariah King of Danvers, Massachusetts. It is likely that he leased the farm at first and built a house on the property. Perhaps this first farm consisted of the buildings on the right of the road; the well and foundations on that side are much less substantial. The town established a road to the Osborn house in 1815 and the mill was probably built at that time.
Stephen and Rachael had seven children including Cyrus, his oldest son, and Mary, their first child born in Packersfield. Mary married Nathaniel F. Davis of Stoddard. Nathaniel’s farm straddled the Stoddard line north of the Osborn place. Both Cyrus and Nathaniel Davis seem to have lived at the family place and been part of the business. In 1827 Stephen decided on Cyrus as his successor selling him the place in return for a mortgage and a maintenance agreement for himself and his wife. Cyrus’ plans seem to have changed in 1838. Cyrus and his father terminated their agreement and Cyrus’ interest was sold to his brother-in-law, Nathaniel.
We know the site was a sawmill from the inventory of the place on the death of Stephen Osborn. When Stephen wrote his will in the spring of 1844, several months before his death, he described himself as being “feeble of body but sound of mind and perfect memory”. He named Nathaniel Davis as his sole executor. Nathaniel and his wife inherited the home place and the mill, though the mill was not specifically mentioned. Stephen’s estate contained all the usual home furnishings and agricultural implements as well as many wood working tools including 3 saws, a lot of chisels, 3 hammers, a lot of shaves, a lot of augers, a lot of bits and bit stock, a square and compasses, a lot of planes, a broad axe and two hand axes. These tools suggest the production of planed lumber including boards and beams. The augers and bits suggest that the mill had been developed to turn wood into cylindrical shapes as well.
Charles Bemis’ unpublished notes on the history of Nelson “manufactures” written in 1913 states that the mill produced tool handles including those for scythes, snathes, hoes and rakes. This kind of small turning work was common at Nelson mills with relatively small water flows producing modest power. Such a mill supplied tool handles for a much wider market than the town itself.
Stephen’s will shows that he died a relatively prosperous man owning, among other things, several dress coats, six vests (including three velvet and one silk) a suit and twelve cotton shirts. There was enough linen to supply beds for a very large family even if only half were in use at a time.
Nathaniel Davis inherited the farm and the mill. It seems to have been a going concern until at least 1858 when the official map of Cheshire County shows a sawmill at that location. It seems the mill closed sometime during the Civil War. Closure may have been occasioned by poor management, but there were numerous environmental factors working against the mill’s success. The war changed markets dramatically requiring difficult or impossible adjustments for people like Nathaniel Davis. Sheep farming was experiencing a rebirth thanks to a demand for wool for uniforms. That benefited sheep farmers and wool processors, but not enterprises like Davis’. New Hampshire hill farms, in decline since the 1830’s were hit hard by the absence of large numbers of young men serving in the Union army. The kind of farming that had supported the Osborn mill was hard hit by this manpower loss. If the mill’s traditional markets were shrinking, Davis could have turned his hand to turning work required by the war. The bigger problem was probably a shortage of raw material. Extensive land clearing had stripped the land of trees and what little wood there was fed the voracious appetite of the steam boilers at the woolen mills in Harrisville which consumed thousands of cords per year.
Evidence of the closure can be seen in the absence of woodworking tools in the inventory of the Davis estate. By the time of Nathaniel’s death in 1866, there were only farming tools in his inventory indicating that the mill was no longer in operation. Gone were the planes, carpenter’s squares, etc. that are the stock of a woodworking business. In fact the place was sold to satisfy Nathaniel’s debts. His estate inventory listed exactly $10 in cash. Twenty-fours years after his father-in-law, Davis died a man of very modest means.
His widow, Mary, lived on the place for a few years by exercising her right to one third of the estate. According to the probate records, she was entitled to “that part of the dwelling house… which includes the parlor, parlor bedroom, kitchen and pantry with a privilege in the chamber, cellar and woodshed and small barn. Said dower to be subject to the right of tenant and occupancy of the other two thirds of the house and other buildings as they now stand.” Neighbor, James Stevens, purchased the farm from the estate.
In 1870 the place was purchased by Parker Hart. He was from Hancock, Massachusetts and likely used it as a seasonal home. His widow, Elizabeth, sold the place in 1901 to Louis Cabot, a wealthy Bostonian, who amassed thousands of acres in the northeast quarter of Nelson and probably did not use the buildings personally. Elizabeth may well have lived in the house as her deed of sale describes her as “of Nelson.” The daylilies that have naturalized throughout the foundation across the road from the main house are her legacy to our generation. The sale out of the Cabot estate in 1917 was the last deed to mention buildings. The town discontinued to road to the place in 1922.
The site may be visited via the Bailey Brook Trail created by the Nelson Trail Group; the tail begins 2.9 miles out Old Stoddard Road.
Magic Show at 6:30pm in the Town Hall, sponsored by the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library
Funding for the Kids, Books, and the Arts event is provided by the Jack and Dorothy Bryne Foundation, CHILIS, Cogswell Benevolent Trust, and is supported in part by a grant from the NH State Council on The Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts as well as funds administered by the NH State Library and provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Please contact the library in advance for the need for a sign language interpreter.
In 2013, the Town of Nelson received a grant from the State of New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources Moose Plate Program “to repair the historic windows and front door of the Nelson Town Hall.” The Moose Plate Grants are funded by the sale of “moose” conservation and heritage license plates.
Nelson’s Grant Writing Committee asked Linda Willett, Executive Director for Historic Harrisville, Inc. (HHI), for a cost estimate to repair the windows and door based on Preservation Guidelines recommended by architect Rick Monahon as part of a Preservation Alliance Grant awarded to the town to create plans to preserve both the Town Hall and the Old Brick Schoolhouse. The town received the maximum amount given for any Moose Plate project, $10,000, and Fred O’Connor, Project Manager for HHI, was hired to do the restoration because of his expertise in the field. Both Linda and Fred are very highly regarded in the building preservation community as is exemplified by their work on Harrisville Village’s National Historic Landmark buildings.
This summer HHI hired a very dedicated intern, Maia DiLorenzo, from Boston’s North Bennet Street School, who is a student in their preservation carpentry program. Fred had already preserved the windows in the Town Hall, but the door remained to be tackled. And tackled it was by Maia, under the tutelege of Fred. Maia has documented her work in exquisite detail with both photographs and a project report, which have now been filed as part of the municipal records in our Town Archives.
The Town of Nelson is very grateful to HHI and Linda Willett, Executive Director, for sparing Fred and Maia long enough to do this important work.
Above is a slideshow (photos by Maia) of the project.
- Maia removing the door.
- Layers on paint were stripped from the front door: dark green, light blue, medium blue/gray, mint green, light yellow and white.
- The door was taken apart and each piece was studied, dissected, stripped, repaired, primed and painted. Here are excerpts from an example of the scrutiny that each piece received: “the bottom interior rail had extensive wood failure where it is believed an ant infestation created voids as deep as 1¼” and subsequent rot starting at the upper strike stile tenon and extended horizontally approximately 24” across the interior face. For these reasons, the rail was cut to eliminate the most extensive failure and a replacement piece of eastern white pine was added measuring approximately 35” long x 5” wide x 1 7/8” thick. Stock for this piece could not be sourced locally, so two pieces were glued together to achieve the necessary thickness.”
- Samples of repairs to individual pieces.
- Individual pieces laid out on the workbench.
- All of the pieces repaired, primed and ready to be reassembled.
- Our new front door.
Monadnock Music is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special free concert at the Nelson Congregational Church on Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 pm. Featuring guest artists from Monadnock Music’s past 50 years, the concert will include music of Johannes Brahms, W. A. Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev and James Bolle, among others. This promises to be a delightful evening of music and memories. For more information: http://www.
Nelson Congregational Church Artisan/Craft Fair
July 18, 2015
9:00am – 3:00pm
On The Lawns Nelson Congregational Church
The folk music of North Carolina has strong roots in Celtic traditions; Jennifer Licko will be singing various types of traditional Scots Gaelic song such as oran luadh (work songs) and puirt a beul (dance tunes), along with folk songs (from North Carolina via Scotland) sung in English including some of her original material which has been greatly influenced by Irish and Scottish songwriters such as Dougie MacLean and John Spillane.
Jennifer will accompany herself on guitar and bodhran and at times will ask the audience to participate in singing and rhythm parts in the spirit of the oral singing tradition.
Jennifer’s most recent album ‘A Thousand Curses Upon Love’ has been receiving critical acclaim from the Celtic/Folk and World music community and is receiving national radio airplay. Currently Jennifer is working on a new album with producer and guitarist Patsy Obrien (The Cathie Ryan band) and four time All Ireland fiddle champion, Dylan Foley (The Yanks). The long awaited album will be trad based with world influences. The Irish Edition writes, “At times, Jennifer Licko has a haunting vibrato in her voice, at times she attacks songs with a deep feeling, but she always attracts as she sings.”
Please bring your donations of books to the library. The annual book sale, hosted by the Friends of the Library on Old Home Day, supports the library in many ways. Your donations make that possible. Clean gently used books are needed. We cannot use textbooks or magazines. This year, the book sale will be in the meeting room below the library. Thank you.
The Nelson Sustainability Group’s first speaker will be David Voymas, whose topic will be “Sustainability and Simplicity: a Personal Journey.” David and his wife, Barbara, began considering the implications of sustainability in the 1970s: their journey has brought them to Nelson, where they are working to build a simple and efficient lifestyle.
David’s presentation is scheduled for Thursday, June 18, at 7 pm, in the Nelson Town Hall. Refreshments will be served. We invite your participation.
The Morris teams, Firebird (a team of men and women, newly established and practicing in Harrisville) and Jack in the Green Morris Men welcomed the spring on Sunday May 3rd in the Nelson Common.
Kathy Schillemat led an exploration of vernal pools on Saturday, May 2nd, sponsored by the Nelson Conservation Committee.
Nelson School 8th Annual Auction update!
What do YOU call Success?
Success can be described in many different ways, but here at the Nelson School we would call the 8th Annual Nelson School PTO auction a huge success! Why?
Because the looks of happiness on the children’s faces as they proudly held up their artwork, a donation that they or their friend had obtained, or something they donated from their family. Their huge eyes of wonderment as Ckris Wallenstein challenged the substantial crowd to dig deeper into their pockets for a few more dollars to make the goal of books for the school a reality. The excitement they showed as they bid on fun items with play money, hoping for that special treasure.
Success is alumni of the Nelson School volunteering valuable time to watch the wee ones of our current families and friends.
Success is the teamwork of educators, parents and friends coming together to achieve a common goal through laughter, life happens moments and family challenges.
Success is many, many community members and businesses donating items and services to ensure the fundraising event meets the school’s goal- BOOKS!
Did we meet that goal? Yes, we did! Together we reached a total raised by the auction, cash donations, food sales and a 50/50 raffle of $10,000.
A huge thank you of everyone in our Nelson School communities and the Monadnock Region and beyone! You did make a difference and from the bottom of our hearts, we all appreciate it!
Joy Birdsey Smith
NS PTO Treasurer
It’s Auction Time!
8th Annual Nelson School PTO Auction, Saturday May 2nd
Nelson Town Hall
Children’s Auction 4:30pm (free)
Live Auction 5:00pm
Auctioneer: Chris Wallenstein
FREE child care available 4:15-until the end
This year’s Nelson School Auction will prove to be the best ever! Come check out the many, many items available! (Helicopter ride for two to the NASCAR race in July, Loudon, NH and return trip, includes tickets to the race, $1,000 certificate to Wilson Orthodontics, gift certificates, massages, local artwork, food entertainment, surprise work of the Nelson School children, crafts, books, kayak and paddle, furniture, auto certificates and detailing, and fun things you need anyway!)
Think future gift giving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, family vacation, Christmas shopping early!
The children’s this year is much needed BOOKS!
Can’t come to the auction? Silent bids are welcome! Preview all day 10-4!
Thank you for your continued support!
The telescope is the equal property of Harrisville Public Library in Harrisville and the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library in Nelson. This telescope was purchased through a program with The New Hampshire Astronomical Society, and particularly it’s Educational Outreach Committee. The goal: To help foster scientific literacy, stimulate an interest in astronomy, and provide people who have never looked through a telescope the chance to experience the excitement that comes from discovery.
This is an Orion StarBlast 4.5-inch Astronomical Telescope, with a zoom eye piece and supportive material. There is an instruction manual, a laminated, spiral-bound 4 by 6 inch copy. The telescope is easy to use and is robust. It has a wooden base, not the usual spindly tripod legs. The telescope is of manageable size, but has a relatively large optical tube. This means that the Moon and deep sky objects will show far more detail than one could see with the common “beginners” telescopes. It also has a large field of view that allows the object to stay in the eyepiece longer.
Patrons (adult) may borrow this telescope for 2 days, understanding that it may take up to 2 library days to get the telescope. Please pick and return the telescope up on the days agreed upon, so that others can use it too. The Borrower is responsible for returning the telescope during library hours, in good condition. The Borrower will agree to pay for any repairs due to negligence or accident.
Reserving: To reserve the telescope, please call or email the library, firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-3214.
Are you interested in volunteering some of your time to become a Lake Host at the Granite Lake Boat Ramp this summer? Our Association has a fantastic group of volunteers who give of their time to sit at the boat ramp and do courtesy boat inspections for the New Hampshire Lake Association. Volunteers have been giving of their time since 2002 and have made a significant contribution to their community. Some of the volunteers don’t even live on the lake, but realize what a beautiful resource the lake is to our town. Becoming a volunteer is easy, a morning of your time to become trained in identifying invasive aquatic species and courtesy boat inspection procedures and you are on your way to becoming a member of a very important group. Sitting at the boat ramp, meeting new and interesting people who share a love of lake are just some of the things you will enjoy during your time as a lake host. Time spent at the boat ramp depends on how much you feel comfortable with, an hour or two is very much appreciated.
We also have some paid lake host opportunities. If you know a young person, 16 years or older who you think would be a reliable individual please have them call me. They would need to be willing to work on the weekends and provide their own transportation.
If you would like more information please call me at 847-3082.
Managing Lake Host Point Person
presented by the The Monadnock Folklore Society
NELSON TOWN HALL
Friday, May 8 – 8:00pm
$15/$12(senior, youth, or in advance)
Wednesday, April 15th, at 6pm in the Library.