program written in 1954 for a meeting of the
McClary Grange on its 75th Anniversary which
takes a look at Epsom and the world from 1885-1954.
An interesting look back at live and times,
with rotary phones being one of the highlights.
planning a program for the observance of our
70th anniversary, we have wandered far from
McClary Grange history. This grange has had
its ups and downs as have other organizations,
therefore to make a more interesting sketch
of the years, we have included local and national
highlights depicting the period.
the Grange was organized it was thought to name
it Fowler Grange for that name was a popular
family name at the time as McClary was in earlier
years and as the Yeaton name is today. No history
is written however of a more worthy or influential
family than the McClary's who first settled
Epsom. This was the first town to push so far
north into the wilderness.
in the Beginning (1884-1894)
opening pages of the records of the grange begins
as follows: Short Falls, NH, Oct. 10, 1884.
The petitioners for a Grange of Patrons of Husbandry
met at Odd Fellows Hall and were called to Order
by George R. Drake, District Deputy who appointed
J. H. Dolbeer, Secretary for the evening and
Winslow S. Parker, teller.
obligation was then administered to thirty-one
men and women. At a subsequent meeting two women
who signed the petition for the Grange but unable
to be present at this meeting received the obligation.
Eleven Fowler's were charter members, one third
of the total number. It is interesting to note
that the present master, Richard Tripp Fowler
is a descendant of the first master, Warren
Tripp and that many members of the family have
taken an active interest in the local grange.
is remarkable to find that all of the meetings
of the McClary Grange have been held in this
hall with the exception of those for the month
of June 1898 when the grange was forced to hold
its meeting in G.A. R. Hall due to the extensive
remodeling of Odd Fellows Hall.
1884 an addition had been built to the G.A.R.
Hall - the present Gossville store. This building
was formerly the church located where the Baptist
Church is. The building was moved by oxen to
its present location. While in transit it became
necessary to stop halfway due to road conditions
and as this was Saturday night moving was not
resumed until Monday morning - consequently
church services Sunday morning were held at
this temporary location.
was noted, oxen helped the early farmers to
do their heavier work. Many of the stone walls
on the New England landscape were built with
the help of oxen. Horse and buggy were more
common for transportation. Many remember when
grange members drove to Short Falls, unhitched
the wagon and the horses were sheltered in the
basement of this hall. Some meetings were quiet,
but often someone was required to leave the
meeting to endeavor to silence the horses.
bicycle was fast becoming the talk of the year.
It was not uncommon to cycle to York Beach or
Boston and arrive for lunch. A yearly fair was
held that drew record crowds to cheer favorite
heroes of bicycling racing, Concord being one
of the favorite stomping grounds.
the nations spotlight, Grover Cleveland served
two non-successive terms in the White House,
Benjamin Harrison being the winning candidate
in the 1888 election.
are many of us who can either remember the gay
nineties personally or remember pa and ma telling
stories of that gay period in our history.
of McClary Grange prove that many a happy hour
was had at the Odd Fellows Hall in Short Falls.
Gay enough so that four of its officers were
united in marriage and a joint reception held
for the happy couples. It has been suggested
that grange might have done much in helping
Dan Cupid. Another couple will not admit that
grange introduced them to each other but neither
will they deny that the time spent was enjoyed.
I doubt if they urged the old gray mare to travel
at top speed.
was not fun though - the officers of 1898 after
much drilling and some misgivings, went to Manchester
to the State Grange meeting and conferred the
first and second degrees with much fear and
trembling. That was then - but today they would
be proud to have been chosen for the honor.
It was the only time that this grange has had
is now Epsom was then a busy town. In 1893 the
town hall had a face lifting, nine windows were
purchased for $23.25 and lumber for the floor
and door cost $20.24 and only $12.72 was paid
out to lay the new floor. For 15 days labor
to paint the interior, a man received $22.50.
How many of us would like to build a home based
on these prices compared with today's ?
Gossville school was built in 1894 and added
to in later years. A student of those days remembers
going to school there and entering through the
window. It seems as though the first to arrive
on the first day had first choice of seats and
this eager child had two older brothers to help
her achieve her ambition.
brought the first telephones to town. The three
stores could accommodate those who wished to
call out of town and a representative called
at the stores once a month to tally the storekeepers
collect the toll fees. The phones were fastened
to the wall and everyone knew your business
or pleasures. Later the party line introduced
into many homes became the cause of much joking
due to listening friends. According to more
than one story the conversations were so interesting
the listening friends joined in - a mistake
never lived down. How different from our dial
phones, private lines and phone booths of today.
you were a Gossville resident of 1896 you undoubtedly
tell first hand of the 102 foot barn which burned,
including the 22 head of cattle housed there.
The remains were buried as soon as possible
but the general store must have done a thriving
business in coffee for that was the necessary
commodity burned for days on the stove in order
to endure the odor.
early 1900's was politically inclined as the
Rough Rider, Theodore Roosevelt, was in the
White House following the assassination of William
McKinley. Mr. Roosevelt served two terms and
four years later due to his increasing coldness
toward Taft, he changed his thinking and ran
for a third term on the newly formed Progressive
ticket. The split ticket won the election for
was following the assassination of President
McKinley that guarding the president became
the task of the Secret Service. These men are
employed for the Treasury Department by order
of Congress and cannot be ordered by the President
to go away and leave him alone, otherwise he
is their boss.
first automobile built in New Hampshire was
by Peter Harris in Manchester in 1896.
writer has asked many members of our community
who owned the first cars in Epsom. One told
of a vehicle owned by the Pennell brothers who
lived in the old Zinn house. Many a time they
started around the circle with it but never
quite made it. Later they owned a Stanley Steamer
which a neighbor can remember seeing horses
being allowed to become acquainted with it.
seemed to be a toss up between Frank Hall and
Dr. Roscoe Hill as to be the first gasoline
car in town. Mr. Harry Silver remembers going
in 1913 with Mr. Benjamin Towle to Penacook
to buy their first cars. Mr. Towle had drove
before but Mr. Silver had not, so was literally
petrified of the thing. By previous arrangements
Mr. Frank Hall met them in Concord to ride home
with Mr. Silver. When the car needed repairs
on what is now Bean Hill, Mr. Hall made the
necessary adjustments and drove the rest of
the way home as Mr. Silver had lost all courage.
of us in the Epsom of today remember waiting
for the Suncook Valley train and wondering if
it would be on time. Quite a difference in 1912
- the train frequently waited for the one cylinder
Graybosky mail truck coming from Northwood to
the olden days people used to be more neighborly
than now. How often we have heard that phrase.
If you lived near to or on a hill as did the
Harry Silver's, - car or no car - you stayed
home and waited for your neighbor to get stuck
in the soft sand and the women passengers will
be in to visit while the men folk labor with
shovels and lay planks in order to be on their
this day of T.V. and all night radio shows it
seems hard to believe that those who had electricity
had to have lights off at 10 pm. Electricity
was generated by water power at the shoe factory
near the Baptist church and only a few homes
were accommodated. When in 1916 the factory,
then a silk weaving establishment, burned, Charles
Huckins took over the task of supplying electricity
to four homes and the store with a generator
run by gasoline motor - later using a Delco
battery and a meter system for recording amount
of service used. Mr. Oliver L. Lombard was offering
the same service at this time to some of the
homes in Short Falls. Previous to this the Odd
Fellows had their own battery system in this
Electric Company brought electric service to
Epsom about 1925 or 1926 and in1927 Mr. Huckins
realized his service was not profitable and
practical enough to continue. It seems strange
to think of sidewalks and street lights from
Gossville to the church, but they tell me they
Wilson was in the White House. The nation mourned
with him in the death of his wife in 1914. Late
in 1915 Wilson married again. If the song "Oh!
You Beautiful Doll" had not already been
a popular song, Pres. Wilson helped to make
it so as he serenaded his second wife.
was said of Wilson's re-election - "The
Republicans celebrated and the Democrat's won."
First World War (1914-1924)
the entrance of 1914 had come the rumors of
conflict in Europe. Every country seemingly
wanted more power and would stop nowhere to
win or take it. All, that is except for the
United States - it was rumored of her that she
was afraid to fight, but President Wilson was
using every means within his power to avoid
war. When Germany announced a campaign of unrestricted
submarine warfare it was inevitable that the
United State would be effected. On April 6,
President Wilson signed the document which declared
the United States in a state of War.
as ever, Epsom responded and a history written
in 1927 listed seventeen names of its sons who
gave of time and effort to stop the war which
was to stop all wars. Cease firing was sounded
by bugles at 11 am on Nov. 11, 1918. The first
assembly of the League of Nations met in Nov.
1920 - 48 countries represented.
Cross: While the boys had marched away to France
to fight for freedom, the women folk made the
knitting needles fly as they knitted the necessary
garments to protect our soldiers from the bitter
July 27, 1918, the chairman and vice chairman
of local organizations met to form the Epsom
branch of the American Red Cross. The object
of the meeting was to ask cooperation in the
financial support of said Red Cross. McClary
Grange was asked to be the first to put on a
benefit. Then, as always, the grange and its
members responded to another worthwhile community
is still a thriving community. In the early
twenties the two garages had their beginning.
Rather odd that at the location of both there
was once a blacksmith shop.
garages brings to mind the story of the gentlemen
who after completing necessary repairs on a
Ford, suddenly realized his work must be undone
and corrected. He had assembled the rear end
so as to give the vehicle two speeds in reverse
and one ahead.
of the first tractors in town arrived in 1916
on the farm of Samuel R. Yeaton. It was a two
cylinder Avery and How, the farm work horse
would of laughed (if only horses could) when
the mechanical work refused to immediately respond.
This tractor is still in existence today, although
replaced with more modern machinery. The neighbors
no longer stare at a new tractor but wonder
what make it is and how many and different attachments
go with it.
of Epsom would not be complete without more
comment here about the Suncook Valley Railroad.
The road was built in 1869 and was part of the
railroad known as the Concord-Montreal Railroad.
The engines were wood burning and named for
prominent men. In 1889 the Barnstead Extension
was opened. After 1924 it operated as the Suncook
Valley Railroad. In 1927 engine No. 1 was purchased
and years later a diesel engine winded its way
up the valley. The Suncook Valley Railroad has
had a glorious life - having served the communities
it passed through faithfully. As well as bringing
mail, grain, coal and doubtlessly numerous other
commodities to town, it has also taken away
its surplus. Logs and lumber piled in winter
where Huckin's oil tanks now stand, in the spring
were hauled away by rail. In the summer months
it was not uncommon to see cars on the side
tracks being loaded with crates of blueberries.
Horses and teams brought them in from Deerfield
as well as all parts of town and often two cars
a week where shipped out to other communities.
Thus its nickname, the Blueberry Express. It
was also the milk train for the farmer who supplemented
his income in this way. As they rolled by and
the road be sagged, trucks came into being and
the train lost its speed, dependability and
usefulness. So the "Toonerville Trolley"
named for the newspaper comic, went through
bankruptcy. Since 1952 we need not wonder if
the train is off the track. Regardless of the
humor it brought forth, we miss its whistle
as it rolled up and down the valley.
1923 death again visited the White House and
Calvin Coolidge was in the position to sit at
Warren Harding's official desk. Coolidge was
elected to a full term in 1924. His Inaugural
Address of march 4, 1925 had the distinction
of being the first to be broadcast.
Fabulous Era (1924-1934)
With the fabulous era came the champions - that
crazy Lindbergh really did succeed to fly the
Atlantic alone; Gene Tunney knocked Jack Dempsey
from his throne; Gertrude Ederle swam the English
Channel; Bobby Jones ruled the golf links and
Babe Ruth was crowned Sultan of Swat. There
were champs even in the underworld - Al Capone
was behind bars and outlaw Dillinger was so
famous they put songs of him on the phonograph
records. Millions became lawbreakers mixing
dreadful concoctions from raw alcohol and dress
suits had big pockets for hip flasks.
more popular daily, told remote communities
of distant doings. Ear phones were necessary
and the evening called knocked in vain for with
the radio, everything else was secondary.
was a happy nation - buy a lot in Florida, sell
it tomorrow and get rich overnight. Two chickens
in every pot, two cars in every garage. The
came October 24, 1929. The crash was as great
as the boom. Prosperity instead of being permanent
was "just around the corner." Our
songs reflected the misery "Brother can
you spare a dime?" The answer "No!"
The lines instead of forming at the nearest
movie house haunted the nearest bank.
return to Epsom in 1927, everyone either took
part of was there to see the pageant pt on by
a local cast to commemorate the 200th anniversary
of the town. It was not a display of talent
by rather a tribute of those who had weathered
the hardships of early years to form a new community
for themselves and future generations.
the early thirties local folks began to realize
the needs for fire fighting equipment and the
knowledge to operate such equipment. Consequently
a volunteer department was organized and the
January 1935 town report lists a fire engine
with other town property. They had purchased
a brand new 1934 Chevrolet truck. Today the
new fire house across from the Baptist Church
houses two fire engines and a tank truck. The
department has also grown in membership - and
has over 100 members. When the dial phones came
to town in 1954 the red phones came to and with
the help of the new siren, quick response was
realized when a fire is reported.
crash of 1929 had lowered everyone to rage and
penny pinching. That is all but the Rockefeller's
came Franklin D. Roosevelt to the White House
and the New Deal delved into the alphabet to
come up with the N.R.A, C.C.C., W. P A. and
P W. A, remember?
the radio had a new use, the fireside chat delivered
by President Roosevelt to calm the confused
nation. In 1936 the labor boys were choosing
sides in the civil was between the A.F. of L.
and the C.I. O. Then the kidnapping and murder
of the Lindberg baby to fill the people's hearts
first with fear and then indignation, climaxed
with the trial and execution of Bruno Richard
medical world pondered and gloried in the birth
of the Dionne Quintuplets; Great Britain mourned
the loss of a King and eagerly awaited King
Edward the VIII's personal decision to marry
the "woman I love" or rule a mighty
saw the draft law go into effect and every young
fellow in every hamlet of the United States
signed up to wait a physical and classification
to train and fight for Uncle Sam. Even so Pearl
Harbor was a surprise attack. As they marched
away the boys begged their girls "Don't
Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else but
Me." All America was misty-eyed as Kate
Smith sang "God Bless America."
the young men of our country were needed to
man the guns and tanks, the girls took over
desk jobs. Many disapproved, war was no place
for the weaker six, but the W.A. C.'s and WAVE'S
were popular nevertheless. Mother's, sisters
and wives also helped out on the assembly line
to hurry necessary planes, ships and ammunition
to their sons, brothers and husbands.
boys were on foreign soil again and all America
pitched in to bring them back quick. At home
the folks really stayed home as gas and tires
were rationed along with sugar, coffee, meat,
butter and canned goods.
once green lawn became the garden plot. War
bonds and saving stamps sprung into being over
of the Atom (1944-1954)
Roosevelt was re-elected for a 4th term, the
only man ever elected to so serve his country.
It proved to be a short term for death took
the president in April 1945. Harry S. Truman
took over but Roosevelt's shoes were hard to
fill. Nevertheless he was elected to another
term in the White House.
had brought new encouragement to soldiers and
civilians alike. It was quickly followed with
a new burst - the first bomb on Japan by the
new B29 Super fortress.
in 1945 Germany surrenders unconditionally.
The atomic bomb blast on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
resulted in Japan's accepting surrender terms.
The to write the peace.
Elizabeth gave romance and glamour to the war
ravished world when she married St. Philip Mountbatten.
Five years later she rules Great Britain as
Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, following the death
of her father George the sixth.
speaking 1952 was the end of an era. For almost
20 years the Democrats had reigned. The Republican's
chant went across the nation - "Its time
for a change." And change we did - into
the White House came a General. Looking back
on two decades of depression and war, how better
to characterize the era than in the words of
Britain's Winston Churchill: "Blood, toil,
tears and sweat."
the United States is stunned to learn of communism.
Its power and presence in our midst. Those who
have television got the news first hand. Many
listened and watched daily to the Senate hearings,
Army vs. McCarthy.
this jet age, history is rapidly being written
and with it a changing world and through always
keeping foremost our rights of "Life. Liberty
and Pursuit of Happiness" it is the desire
to achieve that which all free men are looking
for, a lasting peace and in so doing may we
also preserve our civil liberties of freedom
of speech, the press and religion.