A History of Union, New Hampshire (USA)



Louis E. Tibbetts

Chapter 2 - North Milton

The area below the town line of Wakefield, in the township of Milton, has been so closely related to our village of Union, supporting it in many ways through the years, in business, in church, and socially, that I am including it in this history. Map 2 lays out this portion of Union.

The route beginning at Laskey's Corner, going north through Union, to Hutchin's Crossing, which is two miles above the village, has been known for years as Route 16 and the White Mountain Highway. Part of the original Route 16 was rerouted in 1934, and the resultant road is referred to as old (1934) Route 16. After construction of the "new road" around Union in 1966 (referred to as new (1966) Route 16), the old road through the village was re-named Route 16B. Today, in 1991, it has yet another number, Route 153. In 1979, Route 16 was rerouted again, with a new stretch of road between Rochester and Union, and a new interchange outside Union near Laskey's Corner.

The first house (2-1) at Laskey's Corner, Milton, believed to have been built in 1824, was known as the Ricker Farm until bought by Allie J. and Rose Dyer Barker Laskey (grandparents of my wife Arlene) in 1890. Rose died at a young age in 1897, and Allie then married Elizabeth Weeks, sister of my mother, Susie (Weeks) Tibbetts. The place was then called Intervale Farm. In the late 1920s a large rambling piazza was built on the north and east sides of the house, and Intervale Farm became famous for its chicken dinners. The piazza was built for the purpose of holding chicken dinners, and could hold approximately 15 tables. Elizabeth served the dinner to people who came from far and wide on weekend nights, or for special events, such as a dinner meeting of the Women's Club. Allie also had the freight franchise for the Union depot and to Milton Mills. Along with lumber from his sawmill, he trucked other commodities, such as bales of wool for blankets, grain, coal, etc.

It was always a great treat for me as a boy to visit the farm on a Sunday, as Elizabeth was an aunt of mine. After an enjoyable dinner of delicious vegetables and meat produced on the farm, and cooked in a manner that only farmer's wives know, followed by homemade ice cream, we journeyed to the barn. There we would watch Uncle Al's beautiful workhorses turned loose to go to the watering trough to drink of the constantly running spring water. The floor was covered with lots of pine sawdust that gave a pleasant aroma to the nostrils, and the whole atmosphere would excite a boy's mind.

Allie died in 1937, and Elizabeth lived there until her death in 1956, at which time Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Merrill bought the farm. Mrs. Merrill died after a long sickness, followed by Nelson marrying Irma. The place was then known as Merrill's Farm. The Merrills moved to NY, selling the farm to its current owners, Mr. and Mrs. LePearl, who are restoring the farm to its original beauty. As of 1995, the place is known as Crystal Clear Farm.

Clyde Laskey built a house (2-2), north and across old Route 16 in 1934. Eva Richards of Gage Hill Road in Wakefield became his bride. When the new road was built in 1965, the house was moved to its present location.

In the early 1950s, the building (2-3) at William Garside's Texaco filling station north of Union was moved to a location just north of Clyde's house, and converted into a restaurant operated by Eva. In the late 1950s, it was moved to Pineland Park, Milton.

Clyde's dooryard was a favorite spot for heavily loaded trucks that couldn't make the sharp turn of the old Route 16. Sometimes one would barely miss the house and occasionally one rolled over. There were a lot of thrills and spills, especially one night, when a truck loaded with liquor strewed its load over several yards of highway. You may be sure the local men had a warm time that night!

The Profile Trailer salesroom (2-4) was built in 1957 by Roland and Ronnie Knight of Milton Village, and then bought by Joseph Olympio (when it became Olympic Sales) in 1969. Previously a small roadside lunch stand was built for and operated by Mary Lessard of Milton for a season, probably in the early 1950s. The building was bought by Henry Row and moved to Rochester Fair Grounds for a concession stand. Clyde Laskey moved it on his truck, running into difficulty near the old County Road with overhead utility wires.

Ronnie Knight and family lived in a mobile home (2-5) at the back of the field near the old County Road. He left to live in Florida in 1967 prior to the sale of the business by his father.

This general area was changed substantially when the Spaulding Turnpike was extended from Rochester, to connect with the "new" Route 16 bypass around Union. The old interchange near Clyde Laskey's no longer attached to the new route 16 - instead it provided a connection with the Milton Mills road. Similarly, the next few buildings to be described were eliminated by eminent domain as the turnpike came through in 1979.

The next building (2-6), a garage, was built for Forrest French in 1956, which he operated for some time. Later it was occupied by Robert Duchano of Sanbornville and managed by Dick Hanson. It became Lauze's Garage, operated by Joseph Lauze of Branch Hill. Lauze closed the garage and took over the operation of a garage in Rollinsford, NH. His daughter, Louise, and husband David Lindh opened it after it had been closed for several months. Then Robert Pazuette took it over in May 1973, and his specialty was painting cars. It closed after a few months. In 1976 Ron Kinville opened it as an outlet for Wheel Horse tractors. In May 1979 it was moved to a location just north of the Reunion Grange Hall.

The house (2-7) situated on the hill on the west side of the old county road was known as the Joseph Mitchell place, then later the J. Burroughs home. In the early 1920s, James Hunt of Lynn bought it, and built a small eating place (2-8) between the old County road and the State road (Route 16). He did a thriving business with fried clams as his specialty. He expanded by building a large piazza on the north and east sides, glassing it in to satisfy his customers that wanted to come inside and sit at tables. He also built four overnight cabins in the corner of the field. Jim liked to flash a roll of bills, and one night after closing he was accosted by a young man who wanted his money. Jim, who was tough and rugged, won the scuffle and continued up the hill to his house with his roll intact in his pocket.

After Jim Hunt's death, Lester Bates and wife bought the home and place of business. With an eye on a more elaborate restaurant, they proceeded to build the most recent eye-catching building, demolishing the old one. The new restaurant, situated to the south and in the field with ample parking space, and much improved accommodations, proved to be a too-expensive operation, and Charles DiPrizio took possession of the buildings. A man by the name of Thompson from Durham occupied it for a couple of years and then Clifford and Dorothy Hicks bought it, and moved into the house with their three daughters. Their business was very good until the new road bypassed them and Union in 1965, and the flow of traffic was cut down considerably. However, he had the courage to remodel and add a lounge, which brought back much of the business. Later he was hit by a disastrous fire in the kitchen which ruined the interior of the building. Undaunted by this loss, he cleaned house and completely remodeled again, creating a charming and homey restaurant and lounge. The lounge was discontinued after a short time. In 1972, late in November, he closed for the winter and went to Florida, returning April 1973 to reopen for business. Cliff also sold three of the four overnight cabins, keeping one for storage.

In 1973 a mobile home (2-9) was moved near the site of the old restaurant, near and partly on the old road. The occupants were Charlotte (Hicks) Brown and her husband Dana Brown. They were requested to move it as the state complained about the location. They then moved it to the other side of the stone wall in the northeast corner of the Hicks field.

In 1976 the state assessed the local property for the proposed new road, and the cloverleaf interchange between the turnpike (Route 16) and old Route 16 (16B aka 153) was to be centered in the restaurant. In November 1977, the state took title to this property. Both restaurant and house were demolished during turnpike construction in 1979. The old Hicks barn was torn down by William McKinney and salvaged for use at his place in North Wakefield.

The next house (2-10) is very old and has had many owners - among the early ones were Lewis Plummer, Charles Plummer, Thomas E. Adams, J. S. Remick, William Mills, and Albion F. Varney. Frank Farnham was then the administrator and deeded it to Charles E. Nute (May Nute, widow) on May 27, 1932. After Nute's death, the Rochester law firm of Cooper and Cooper were administrators, and deeded it to Louis E. and Arlene L. Tibbetts, August 6, 1942. It was in terribly rough shape, showing total neglect for many years. In fact, boards had to be laid across the room inside the door to the kitchen, as the floor was so weak.

Over a period of several months, we cleaned the place inside and out, took down the chimney and some partitions, rearranged the rooms, restored some of the wainscoting, built a new chimney and fireplace, added dormer windows and new stairs, making two rooms upstairs, built and enclosed a porch, wired it and added running water, bath, and a furnace, and built a new two car garage with a loft and room for a workshop. The old henhouse was moved to Middleton, and the remains of the old barn were carted away. Click here for before and after views of the house, taken in 1943 and 1944, respectively.

This house was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Jensen in 1947, bought by Alonzo and Ruth Mills in 1966, and then bought by Paul and Ann Tabory in 1972. The state took the property in 1976 for the proposed new road at a price of $42,500. Kinville Corp. bought the house in 1977 from the state, and moved it to its current location on the Governor's Road in Brookfield. We held onto five acres between the house and the restaurant - this former pasture provided us with Christmas trees for years, until the state took it in 1977 for the new Route 16.

The house (2-11) just beyond and across the road was built by Garfield Marsh of Acton, Maine for Francis Robinson and Eunice Tripp Massen (later Eunice Garrett) in the 1940s. The frame and boards used were obtained from an old barn. It was at this time a shop used to restore old furniture by Garfield Marsh and the aforementioned ladies. It was later converted to a home, and after some time it was sold to John and Mary Gillis, then to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Colbath, and to Mr. and Mrs. Ronal Pappas in 1972. Pappas moved away in 1979. Prior to the construction of buildings on this land, the associated names are H. Wilson and Marie K. Thompson (also associated with 5 acres of Elizabeth Laskey land).

About a hundred yards beyond was a small and old house (2-12) owned by G. Jones, then Lewis Plummer, then Asa Mills. It was bought by George Kimball around 1933 and moved to its present location, north of the Plummer Cemetery. It was in the right-of-way for the then (1934) new Route 16. The cellar hole, being between the two existing roads, was filled in.

The sawmill (2-13) across the road (old Route 16) was built by Hanson Hayes between 1813 and 1816 on the shore of the Jones River. The dam must have been built about that time as all the power came from the use of a water wheel. Hanson Hayes was born in 1792 and died in 1851. The mill was bought by Lewis Plummer in 1836, then by Charles and George Plummer in 1867. Three years later (1870), Charles bought out George and continued operating it until the spring of 1921 when it was bought by Allie J. Laskey. An old up and down saw was used until 1872. A shingle mill was erected in the rear. Allie Laskey installed a tractor to supplement the sometimes failing waterpower. About 1928 he installed electric power. Allie and son Ralph did the trucking and managing, while sawyer Fred Foster (who lived up on Plummer's Ridge) kept the lumber coming. New England Box's Lumber Company bought the mill from Allie Laskey, remodeled it, and built a large incinerator for burning the slabs. They stopped all operations in 1960. It has since been dismantled, and together with the former Plummer land south of the mill, was bought by Strout Realty of Rochester in 1972, for development. All that remains of the old sawmill now is the old sawdust pile.

Across the Jones River on the east of Route 16 is the Charles Wentworth house (2-14). It was later owned by Homer and Marjorie Wentworth followed by Clifton Avery. The house was bought in 1959 by Robert D. and Virginia Runnels.

Going left to the crossroads and crossing the railroad tracks is an old cellar hole (2-15) on the left - formerly the Edwin P. Jenness home, where May (Jenness) Nute and Eliza (Jenness) Varney were born. It was torn down in the late 1920s.

The only house (2-16) standing at this time was owned by an H. Wentworth in 1892. Katie O'Donnell and her husband came here in the 1920s - Jack McLoud came to board with Katie and lived there until his death in the 1940s. Jack was a familiar figure, seen walking to the Post Office and store very often. With his white hair and mustache and slouch hat, he was known and liked by everyone. Before this, Katie was known by the villagers as she delivered eggs, etc., with her horse and buggy, old-fashioned clothes, and stern manner. However, underneath, she was a real friendly person. Both of these men were buried in a small clearing on a knoll, in the south end of the field, southeast of the house. No markers were put there to mark the spot. After Katie's death in 1961, George Fifield Jr. and wife and children made this their home. He died early in life and his wife remarried David Young.

Continuing across the road and up Mills Hill but known as Piggot Hill since the early 1930s, we come to a cellar hole (2-17), all that remains of the former home of William Mills, who lived there in the late 1800s. A spot just beyond marks the home of G. Page before the turn of the century. The fields are back to woods, but when Mr. and Mrs. Piggot came here from Cambridge, Massachusetts in the early 1920s, they had a small building (2-18) where they came to spend their summers. Allie Laskey used to truck in their summer supplies with on of his horse teams. After a few years when they had both died the building burned, and the area has returned to woodlands.

Driving up that road, on a beautiful Sunday forenoon in my Model A Roadster, barely making a sound over the soft dirt road, I suddenly came in sight of the cabin. Mr. and Mrs. Piggot, protected by a generous coating of oil, were stretched out on a blanket, taking a sunbath in the nude. It is needless to say they were surprised as well as I. They grabbed the blanket and made a dash for the cabin, and they would have put the 1974 "Streakers" to shame. Mrs. Piggot had gained a wide reputation as a fortuneteller and many a woman in this area had gone to her to find out what to expect in their remaining lifetime. They were invited to the back shed, cussed and abused and parted wiser, perhaps, but minus two dollars.

Coming back to the main highway (the old original Route 16) is the Trefethren Farm (2-19) . This became the home of George Plummer (his wife Ada died in 1931 at the age of 76 - he died in 1935 at age 89). Their three children were born here, Agnes (born 1873), Etta (born 1880), and Helen. Helen was a schoolteacher and the only one to marry, living in Derry. Agnes went to care for her Uncle Charles (up the street at the Lewis Plummer farm), and died in 1959. Etta lived here until she sold to Frank Cressy of Rochester in 1968, then went to Derry to live with her sister Helen. Richard and Anita Hastings bought the farm in 1970. There was formerly a small building (2-20) built across the street by George Plummer, large enough to keep a car in but used mainly to store farm equipment. It was sold and moved away prior to the selling of the farm by Etta Plummer.

Years ago there was a set of farm buildings (2-21) beyond the Trefethren farm, known as the Clark farm. This burned a long time ago.

Just beyond the lane and opposite the Charles Plummer Farm was the Adams house (2-22). It also burned before the turn of the century.

Going back Route 16 (built in 1933) toward the new bridge is a home (2-23) on a hill on the east side of the highway built by Charles and Louise Barrett in 1969.

Then proceeding north is a building (2-24) built at the far side of the field amidst the trees, by Laurence Hemard in 1972. The Dan Tuttle barn from Fifield Hill in Wakefield was torn down and some of the lumber used in this building.

Coming next is the Agnes Plummer carriage house (2-25), which was moved to a position south of the farm, set back a short distance from the highway, remodeled, beautified, and the grounds landscaped. Now owned by Betty Wisdom, who bought it in 1971-72.

Next is the farm (2-26) built by Lewis Plummer, who died in 1903 at the age of 93. Charles Plummer then died in 1930 at the age of 93, followed by Agnes Plummer, who died in 1959 at the age of 86. It was occupied by Louis E. Tibbetts and operated as a milk farm from 1931 to 1942 with a Guernsey herd of forty head. Click here to see the farm in 1936, with the herd out to pasture for the first time that year. Bought by Charles Barrett in 1959, and then by Robert Duchano and William Real Estate in 1969. Cremo Construction then bought it. It was sold to Dr. Eugene Andes in 1970, who did extensive remodeling, as well as planting an apple orchard. The property was sold in 1999 to Sheldon and Mary Holmes (their Branch River Farm website is here.

Across the highway, Glen and Lorraine (Wilson) Elkert built a new home (2-27) in 1971, adding a fireplace and utility building in 1974. Opposite the Plummer Cemetery (2-28) a new mobile home (2-29) was moved in and installed on a cellar in 1976, and occupied by Sherman and Florence LaJune. Ernest and Florence Cormier also moved in a mobile home (2-30) in 1971, adding a new garage in 1972, and planting fruit trees. Another mobile home (2-31) was moved in to the north in 1971 by Arthur and Edna Quaagan, followed by addition of a garage in 1972. Arthur had a severe heart attack in later November 1973, came home and in a few days had another attack and died suddenly Saturday morning December 8, 1973. Arthur and Ernest were faithful members of the Morning Coffee Club at Worster's Country Store. I miss seeing the very friendly Arthur at this gathering. Sisters Claire and Velma Morse moved a mobile home onto the lot next to the Quaagans in August 1974, after landscaping and having a well drilled. They had a utility building installed in the spring of 1975 where they kept their V.W. Velma died in 1976, and in June 1978, Claire moved to Cincinnati to be near her brother, selling the place to Arthur and Eileen Harris.

Next are two cemeteries, the Andrews Cemetery (2-32) on the west side of the highway, and the Plummer Cemetery on the east side of the highway. Beyond the Plummer Cemetery is the Asa Mills house (2-33), moved here by George Kimball in 1933. Many tenants have come and gone until the house was bought by Frances and Marjorie Fifield in 1947. A breezeway and garage were added in the late 1960s.

Lloyd and Miriam Wentworth built their new home (2-34) in 1941. Later a barn on two levels was added. The latest attraction is a full size windmill built in their back field in 1971. This is also known as the Town Line Farm. They had all kinds of livestock at different times, horses, cows, mule, and some cattle that many people stopped to admire.

Across the road is the last house (2-35) in the town of Milton, occupied by Mrs. Ritch in 1892. Next occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Gerrish in 1928, who came here from Danville, Vermont. Mr. Gerrish was a retired engineer who died in 1934. Their daughter and her husband, Dorothy and Bernard Smith then came to live with her mother. Next was George Morrill, followed by Wilfred and Blanch Thomas and children Leroy, Jimmy, and Muriel, in 1940. Wilfred was affectionately known as "Tailspin Tommy", given his love for airplanes. Leroy was a Green Beret, and served in Vietnam for three tours. Daughter Muriel and son James and wife now reside in the house.

In the early days of automobiles there was a garage (2-36) an old-fashioned hand-cranked gas pump (one gallon at a time). The pump was taken out and the building demolished a few years ago.

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