Nelson People

Church buzzes with activity after retirement

by on June 1, 2013 in Home Page, Nelson People, Promote

[from the Keene Sentinel, June 1, 2013   – by Susan Reing Sentinel Staff]

Richard P. Church regularly entertains royalty at his quiet home at the end of a dirt dead-end road.

Although it might be more accurate to say it’s the royalty that entertains him.

Church, 69, was expecting a phone call from the post office on a recent afternoon, waiting to hear whether another royal visitor had arrived. Specifically, a queen. A queen bee.

Church is a longtime beekeeper, and currently has seven hives with approximately 350,000 bees at his Nelson home that he tends to on a regular basis. And bees need queens. They can easily anoint one of their own, but Church likes to have new blood. So he continues to seek out queen bees that are fertile, weather- and disease-resistant, that will add to the genetic diversity of the microcosmic communities that are hives.

He got interested in bees in the ‘70s when a fellow worker at Markem Corp. introduced him to the hobby. He joked that he spent the first five years trying to convince his wife that she wouldn’t be stung to death. [read the rest of this article on the Keene Sentinel web site]

Sophia Returns

by on November 3, 2012 in Favorites, Nelson People, Rick Church

by Rick Church

The cross-stitched sampler that Sophia Griffin created as an eleven-year-old girl in Packersfield in 1801 has come home to Nelson.  This is a story of an old Nelson family; interest in family heritage and local history, the marvel of communication that the Internet provides, and the generosity of Nancy and Ray Foster.

Sophia Griffin's samplerA sampler is an early piece of needlework stitched, or wrought by a young girl in school with silk thread on a linen background as a demonstration of accomplishment. Samplers can run the gamut in quality and complexity. The first attempt at making a sampler usually contained only alphabets, numbers, name, date, and sometimes a small amount of decorative stitching. Sophia Griffin’s sampler is a good example of a simple sampler done at a young age.

This spring Nancy and Ray Foster of St. Petersburg, Florida were doing a much needed weeding out of long stored and treasured things.  Among them was a sampler that had been given to Nancy’s mother, Doris Parrish, by her longtime friend, Carolyn (Peachy) McGlinty in the early 1970’s.  The sampler came with a written history that had come from a family bible. Nancy recalls: “ I cannot recall how the sampler was transported to Woburn, but once it was in Woburn, my Mom proudly displayed it on her dining room wall. At that time, there was never any discussion as to where Packersfield was or who the little girl may have been, only that it had more sentimental value than historic.” Continue Reading »

Kris Finnegan, Library Director of the Year (Award Ceremony)

by on October 2, 2012 in Community Gathering, Library, Nelson People

Each year the New Hampshire Library Trustees Association selects a “Library Director of the Year” and this year they have selected our own, Kris Finnegan. The award is given for professionalism, leadership and outstanding performance to a Library Director who offers programs which enhance the quality of life in their community. Kris certainly meets this criteria and more. The Trustees of the library are thrilled that Kris has received this award. We will let you know as soon as the award ceremony has been scheduled and we hope that you will be able to join us then. – Linda Cates, for the Olivia Rodham Library Board of Trustees.

Click Here to read why the Library Trustees thought Kris should receive this award.

The Award Ceremony for Kris Finnegan’s Library Director of the Year award will be on Tuesday, October 2, 7 PM in Town Hall. There will be a brief award ceremony followed by refreshments. We hope everyone will join us as we celebrate Kris’s award.

Congratulations Kris Finnegan

by on September 13, 2012 in Library, Nelson People with 0 Comments
Each year the New Hampshire Library Trustees Association selects a “Library Director of the Year” and this year they have selected our own, Kris Finnegan.  The award is given for professionalism, leadership and outstanding performance to a Library Director who offers programs which enhance the quality of life in their community.  Kris certainly meets this criteria and more.  The Trustees of the library are thrilled that Kris has received this award.  We will let you know as soon as the award ceremony has been scheduled and we hope that you will be able to join us then. – Linda Cates, for the Olivia Rodham Library Board of Trustees. 

Click Here to read why the Library Trustees thought Kris should receive this award.

The Award Ceremony for Kris Finnegan’s Library Director of the Year award will be on Tuesday, October 2, 7 PM in Town Hall. There will be a brief award ceremony followed by refreshments. We hope everyone will join us as we celebrate Kris’s award.

Carol Raynsford Sings

by on January 11, 2012 in Music, Nelson People

Carol Raynsford left this world on Friday, January 6th, 2012.

This is from her performance in The Hotel Nelson.

Frank’s Kitchen

Frank Upton’s gone now, along with his kitchen.  But, it wasn’t long ago that Barry often went down the road to Frank’s farmhouse to sit around his kitchen table.  As Frank got older, Barry said that he was just checking up on the old man who then lived alone, but there was clearly something more.  Something that not only enticed Barry, but enticed a host of friends and neighbors to gather around Frank’s scruffy old drop-leaf table.

And, it certainly wasn’t the smell of the kerosene pot burner or yesterday’s fried liver (Frank liked it well done).  Nor was it the stale and overflowing ashtray hand-crafted by his good friend Boo Doore from Harrisville, or the spare floatplane propeller propped up in the corner, or even the Remington pump-action deer rifle that hung in the spider webs over the kitchen window, under which a toaster fire had once charred its butt end.  And it probably wasn’t the wind that howled off the lake through the north end of the house, often accompanied by mini-drifts of snow blowing into the kitchen. Continue Reading »

Shoot: It’s Old Home Day!

Hey Nelson Folks: If you’ve spent time in the Town Hall you might have noticed a nice collection of pictures from Old Home Day of many years ago. This is a treasure, and wouldn’t it be nice to create an updated version (to supplement, not replace)?  So, here’s what we’ll do – on Old Home Day (or other times during Old Home Week), take pictures. Then, pick out up to five that you consider your best photos and send them to  An impromptu committee will meet and pick out the best of the best, and make a new photo display (we’ll also create an online gallery on this web site).  Please keep your images in their original size so that they will retain their integrity when printed. Please either zip them or send them separately – so that no one attachment is over 10MB. You may provide captions if you want, and be sure to include your name for proper credit.

Foster’s Dismissal

The Reverend Jacob Foster served the town of Packersfield for ten years from 1781 to 1791. During that time twenty-seven families joined the church. We do not have census data that exactly match the years Foster served, but the population of Packersfield in 1783 was recorded as 511 and in 1790 as 721.  The census of 1790 listed 160 families.  The town had grown to the point where Foster’s contract called for full pay — 70 pounds in 1774 money.  We can estimate that the number of families had increased by about sixty and just under half had joined the church. Mid-way through Foster’s tenure as town minister, Packersfield undertook the construction of a much larger meetinghouse. Begun in 1786 and finished enough for use by 1788 it was, at sixty by forty-five feet and twenty-eight feet at the eaves, a house of worship to make any town and its minister proud. Continue Reading »

Forum ReUnion

On Saturday evening, April 16, a celebration was held in Town Hall to mark the six month anniversary of the Nelson Community Forum held at Apple Hill last September.  The evening began with socializing and a finger food potluck.  The committees formed at the Community Forum gave brief updates on their activities.  Then on to the main attraction – music from some of Nelson’s finest.

John Cucchi led off with some excellent guitar and vocal work.  Young Kaitlin Schillemat sang beautifully.  Next up was Alouette Iselin with some great songs for sing along.  Warmed up by Alouette, the sing along continued with an excellent performance by Allison Aldrich and Hunt Smith, backed by Tom Murray on bass. A good time was had by all.

The Nelson Community Forum Follow-up

The work of the September 17 and 18th Nelson Community Forum is over, and now the work toward its resultant goals has begun.

The event was a phenomenal show of community interest and support with well over 100 participants, many of whom also volunteered to help with the planning aspects of the occasion.  Thank you all.

The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music was an ideal venue for accommodating the Forum, which was facilitated by Jack Calhoun of Antioch New England Institute.  Thank you Apple Hill for your generosity, and thank you Jack for your many hours of guidance through this process.

We gathered Friday night for registration and a potluck supper.  And then, with dessert barely digesting, as we were settling down to begin the facilitated work of the evening, the power went out!  But the power of the participants surged on as we literally and figuratively lit our way through the rest of the evening. Continue Reading »

Party Lines


Two things brought this story together:  Remembering a funny event and an assignment from Wednesday Academy mentor, Bonnie Riley, to write a story using only dialogue – which is included at the end of this piece.

Thus a little bit of town history emerged – the party line.

When Barry and I first moved into the Farmhouse at Tolman Pond in 1969, our only available telephone service was a six-party line.  (Or, perhaps it was eight.  I can’t remember.)  Of course we knew all the neighbors who shared the line, and after conquering the established art of discreet eavesdropping, we also knew most of their business.  As they surely knew most of ours!

For instance, we all knew that two of our party-line women talked with each other every morning at 9:00 (often sharing gossip about the neighbors) because, while each of us had our own personal ring, everybody’s ring rang on all of our phones.  One woman dialed up the other on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and vice-versa on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  They didn’t gossip on Sunday!

Our personal ring was one long and one short.  And if we wanted to call someone on the same party line, we would dial their number and quickly hang up.  All the phones on the party line would then ring that number.  When the ringing stopped, it usually meant that the other party had picked up, and said “hello.”  So, we’d then pick up our phone again and say “hello”, too.  The “hellos” were sometimes pretty awkward, because if the timing was slightly off, the receiving party would often be saying “hello” before the dialing party had picked up again – thus talking to a vacant phone.  And when the dialing party finally picked up and said “hello”, it was often confusing as to who was calling whom because both parties were echoing “hellos” back and forth.  Of course the eavesdroppers had to time their interference pretty carefully, too, being sure to pick up only after the other parties had said their “hellos”, or otherwise risk revealing their nosiness. Continue Reading »

The Hotel Nelson Revisited

Sponsored by Moving in Step

In 1997, the people of Nelson raised funds from private donations, the Town of Nelson and the Nelson Congregational Church to sponsor The Hotel Nelson, a musical theatre that was created by, for, and about the Town of Nelson. Facilitated by Larry Siegal of Westmoreland, it was performed in the Nelson Congregational Church on August 14 and 15 to sold out audiences.

In 1840, The Nelson House was built to house the hotel, the post office, the library and a store.  The three-story brick building burned down in 1894!  So, for 54 years, sitting on the village common, it was literally the center of the town.
Thus, it is the metaphor from which our theatre, The Hotel Nelson, was born:

“When I built this hotel I put a porch on the front.  It was the best decision I ever made.  People come and sit out there, from the end of black fly season until the first snowfall.  Now granted, that’s not a very long stretch of time, but it’s enough time for some good stories to get told, and for more stories to get made.  The town goes by, day by day, and just when I think I’m getting to understand how it works, something happens and I realize I really don’t have it figured out after all.  But I love it here – this place, this land, these people.  I’ve found myself quite a home here….  Please… come in.  You might stay for a night, or for a summer.  And if you can’t figure out how to leave, well – you won’t be the first. “
Narrator in “The Hotel Nelson”
(from the opening scene)

From the above scene onward, songs were sung and stories were told by the same people who researched, wrote and composed them.  They covered some of
Nelson’s history and politics, some of its notables and characters, and many anecdotes past and present.

Some of the songs that were sung are simply too good to relegate to the archives, so we’re going to sing them again…with your help.

So, please join us on Friday night, January 29, 2010, 6:30 pm, at the Nelson Town Hall.

After a potluck supper (please bring something to share), we’ll have some skilled musicians teach us a few of the songs so that we can all join in.  But, if you don’t sing, that’s OK.  Just come to enjoy the festivities.

“The mud can’t get deeper on Old Stoddard Road.
My white car is brown: what a sight to behold.
I’d give anything for a driveway that’s dry,
And to taste the tart pleasure of fresh rhubarb pie.”

From “Sing Halleluiah!”

“The world is full of gladness, and joys of many kinds.
There’s cure for ev’ry sadness, each troubled mortal finds.
My little cares grow lighter.  I cease to fret and sigh.
My eyes with joy grow brighter, when she makes lemon pie.”

From “The Lemon Pie Song”

“When you’re a kid in Nelson you’re like a tall oak tree
Roots reach down into the past
Arms reach for eternity
Whether we’re playing baseball
Or biking through the square
There’s always something happening
And music fills the air”

From “Being a Kid in Nelson”

And, stay tuned for more:  On Saturday, March 27, 2010, we will incorporate the songs that we learn on January 29 with more of the original songs and many of the stories (and perhaps even some new ones!) into another evening out at The Hotel Nelson Revisited.

“There’s one thing certain about the future, which is — it’s always going to be there.  Some folks worry about it, some try to plan for it, some think it’s preordained, and some spend so much time thinking about it that today becomes tomorrow with nothing in between.

“Now the past is always there too.  And we might not worry so much about it, but people can get to dwelling on that too, and lose the present.

“I like it here in Nelson, ‘cause folks seem to enjoy the past, the present, and the future, all in good measure.

“When I’m away from here I tell people about this place.  And sometimes someone will ask – tell me, that town of yours, and that Hotel, is it real, or is it just make believe?

“And I answer:  yes.”
Narrator in “The Hotel Nelson”
(from the closing scene)

Packersfield Becomes Nelson

by on December 13, 2009 in Life in Nelson, Nelson People, Rick Church with 0 Comments

Editors Note: This is the latest in a series of articles about the history of Nelson. Click here show the entire article series.

Severing the Last Colonial Ties

The close of the Revolution saw a much-changed Packersfield.  Breed Batchellor, the man who was ultimately the agent of His Majesty’s Royal Governor, had fled the town in 1777 to join the British Army and he eventually drowned in Nova Scotia. Thomas Packer, for whom the town had been named, had died in 1771, but after the Revolution his son, Thomas, began to sell the family holdings which included the land from the French’s Farm and the Warners all the way north and west to the Stoddard and Sullivan town lines including all we know today as Munsonville.

Parke Struthers and Samuel Wadsworth wrote that the original naming right had come with Packer’s promise to deed 500 acres to the town. His failure to fulfill that promise is said to be the reason the town began the effort to change its name, shedding any outward evidence of the early association. There is little direct evidence of Packer’s original promise. Book 3 page 249 at the Cheshire County Registry records that Thomas Packer sold Josiah Willard and Breed Batchellor 104 acres of land in the Northeast Quarter of Packersfield for five schillings on September 3, 1768 “ for the common public use of the inhabitants of said quarter.”  Five schillings was almost a gift, as the land was worth something in the neighborhood of ten times that. When he fled in 1777, Batchellor still owned the 104 acres; it passed out of his family in 1824 never having been put to public use. Continue Reading »

Breed Batchellor: The Enemy

by on November 8, 2009 in History, Nelson People with 0 Comments

battle of benningtonFor newly incorporated Packersfield, the years 1774 and 1775 saw a great deal of growth.  A census taken in 1773 reported 117 residents in Packersfield; by 1775 there were 186 people in town, and by 1790 there would be 721!  Men using axes and oxen were clearing land. Numerous roads were laid out. The early battles of the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence seem not to have slowed the pace of settlement, though it forced the chief architect into exile in Canada.  Breed Batchellor, the man who had worked so hard to transform Monadnock Number Six into Packersfield, refused to sign the Association Test, an oath of loyalty to the new country. He became the enemy within. In a very short time the people who had ardently supported him in the struggle against James Blanchard in the incorporation struggle turned against him as a traitor.

Packersfield sent many of its young men to fight for independence and bought military supplies to support the effort.  A petition sent by vote of the town meeting reflected the commitment Packersfield was making to the war and its dread of Breed Batchellor, the Tory in their midst. Continue Reading »

Bonnie Riley Honored at KSC

by on April 1, 2009 in Nelson People with 2 Comments

Bonnie Riley, a longtime Nelson resident, was among four women honored on March 30 at Keene State College’s 19th annual Outstanding New Hampshire Women ceremony. The event is a celebration of New Hampshire women’s accomplishments and creativity. “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet” (the theme for 2009) recognizes women who have made extraordinary contributions to our college, regional, and state communities.

Bonnie surrounded by many Nelson friends.

Bonnie surrounded by many Nelson friends at the Award ceremony.

Bonnie was presented with the Monadnock Region Community Award, honoring her support of other women; for her work as a role model, organizer, motivator, and life-long educator; and for her community building for local women.  Continue Reading »