A History of Union, New Hampshire (USA)



Louis E. Tibbetts

Chapter 5 - Main Street

Now we approach the business center of current Union - central Main Street. This area is illustrated in Maps 5a and 5b.

[Union Hotel (Red Coach Inn, VFW Hall) in 2004]The The first building (5-1) on the west side of Main Street, north of the railroad tracks, is the old Union Hotel. This set of buildings was probably built in the 1820s (The earliest date on record is 1829, from an old Red Coach Inn postcard - see Figure 13), when it was known as the Union House. I am told that in the very early days of the train, when it whistled at the crossing over the Mills Hill Road, all hands at the Union House grabbed their mugs and filled them with beer, for when the train pulled into the station, there was a bee line from the train to hotel for a mug of beer. The hotel was built by Robert Pike prior to the arrival of the railroad in 1855. It was a large hotel, three stories, with facilities to accommodate 20 guests, a large barn, and a large hall, known as Pike's Hall. The dining rooms were said to be the most elegant in northern New Hampshire. Prior to the arrival of the railroad, the stagecoach from Ossipee stopped 2-3 times a week. This was the terminal for the train from 1855 to 1871 and he did a thriving business, including his livery stable. Salesmen would come to town on the train, then hire a horse and wagon to take them to territories further north.

Looking through the old barn in its outwardly poor condition, the inside remains a thing of beauty and must have been most fascinating in the days when it was full of driving horses. The ceiling is sheathed, with the hayloft above the length of the barn, horse stalls on both sides, even numbers on the south side, odd numbers on the north side. On either side of the hayloft the floor is lowered and a hay chute to each individual horse stall, numbered in correspondence with each stall below. A nice robe and harness room is at the far west end. A walkway to the south leads to the cow tie-up, which is now mostly a heap of ruins.

It is interesting to consider the change from 100 years ago. Of particular note is the number of hotel rooms available in 1891. The Union House (A. H. Pike) had room for 20 guests. The Elm House (J. E. Penney) had room for 25. C. H. Garland had a capacity of 15 guests, while John Kimball (Maple Ridge, later "The Maples") could handle 15, and Alva S. Garland could board 35 guests - a total of 110 guest rooms in Union alone - quite impressive for a small town. The Elm House and Highland View Farm were meccas for summer visitors, in a time when vacationers were happy to sit on the porch and rock away the hours, or play croquet and go walking. Peaceful it was when we compare those good times with the activities of today. Were those the good old days, with the gramophone to bring one music, or is today just as good?

After Robert Pike, Isaac Lord operated the livery station, followed by Charles Wentworth. Besides driving horses, Charles kept two pairs of work horses for hire. Son Robert (Bob) used to sleep there in a comfortable room built for the hostler's use. At this time, the hotel was run by Charles Manser. J. W. Pike sold the livery business to Henry Steen of Middleton in 1899 and moved to Springvale, Maine. While J. W. Pike was involved, he published a postcard depicting Union in the distant future (see Figure 14) - note the subway to Milton, the sight-seeing bus, the elevated railway, and the air service - pretty futuristic for turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Union! Manser was followed in running the hotel by Lester Wiggin and Jake Lord.

Clara Perkins was proprietor for many years, including during the big fire of 1923, when she served coffee and donuts to the firemen. She was born August 7, 1857 in New Durham, and died at her home, the Union Hotel, in October 1932. Fred and Frances Langley were here for a while, then retired to their farm on the South Wolfeboro Road. Charles Farmer, Chevrolet dealer in Rochester, bought the place, redecorated it inside, painted the outside red, and renamed it the Red Coach Inn. Mr. and Mrs. Crosby, who summered in Milton Mills, operated it for him.

Jerry and Mary Belliview bought it and improved the outside appearance until they cut down the beautiful maple shade tree in the center of the yard. It seems the tree was in the way of some of the patrons leaving the beer parlor at late hours. This, combined with the cutting of several other nearby maples during the road widening of the 1930s, lessened the beauty of this spot. Business was good for a few years, especially during hunting season, when the dividing line was between Carroll and Strafford counties, and the hunters gathered here each weekend for several weeks. Then, as activities changed from year to year, business became slower, and the Belliviews decided to go back to teaching, so they closed up and went back to Massachusetts.

Mrs. Barthalmew then had it for while, after which it was vacant until the VFW were able to purchase it at a price they could afford. This proved to be a fine gesture on their part, as they donated many hours of their time to improve the building which had fast been becoming an eyesore. Since 1967, the hotel has been the home of the Burroughs Drew post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW and Auxiliary now hold regular meetings, veterans dinners, and Saturday night Beano here, along with Memorial Day exercises every two years. The detached barn was disassembled by Bill McKinney in 1977 and the lumber used at his place in North Wakefield. The main building has now been placed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The houses from here to my former house (the old hospital) were all burned in the fire of 1923, along with the top story of my barn, and, across the street, the barn of Frank Farnham and the top story of the William M. Lord store. The area affected by the fire is shown as shaded regions on Maps 5a and 5b. Here is a view of this stretch in the early 1900s.

Going north, the first house (5-2) was the George and Georgianna Hammond house, in which they had an ice cream parlor in 1920-21. Hammond was a mail carrier on the RFD route out of Union (followed by Elmer Kimball in 1920, who had the route until he retired in 1963). George also carried children to school via horse and sleigh. Once when Harry Baldwin was driving the horse and sleigh, the runners caught in the railroad tracks, tipping the sled and dumping the occupants on the ground. The horse and sleigh raced off down the railroad tracks, only to be stranded on the trestle below the Mills Hill railroad crossing, from which the horse was later rescued. After the Hammond house was a two tenement house (5-3), a single house (5-4) owned by Homer Wentworth, and the Elm House (5-5). The Elm House was operated by J. E. Penney in the late 1800s, followed by Isaac Lord, who operated a livery stable after leaving the Union Hotel, until the fire. The cellar hole from the barn attached to the Elm House is still visible between the garage and the old hospital, and is referred to as the sunken garden.

At 1 PM on the Sunday before Labor Day in 1923, Hiram Moulton, a nephew of Arthur Moulton, was trying to light a lantern in the hayloft of the Hammond barn, when the flames reached some hay. Within minutes the barn was engulfed in flames. At one time or another during the course of the fire, many homes were threatened by the flames, and many roofs were singed. The metal siding and roofing of the hotel barn allowed it to be saved by the bucket brigade. The fire also took longer to subdue than it might have, as the fire truck from Wolfeboro went off the road while responding, and the fire truck en route from Somersworth tipped over at Hanson's Corner, south of Rochester.

The first of the current buildings along this stretch on the west side of the road is the fire station (5-6), which was built in 1936. Two bays were added in 1969, built by Harry Eastman. David Bailey of Bailey and Blendiger Knife Co. was the fire chief at this time. Wilfred Nute followed as fire chief from 1947 until January 1975, when his illness caused Fred Dudley to become acting chief, followed by his election as chief in April 1975.

The first automotive fire pump was built on an old Peerless touring car donated by William M. Lord. During 1936, a V8 Ford fire truck was obtained, a bright and shiny red, with a wooden ladder. In 1950 a committee was appointed at the annual precinct meeting to investigate and purchase a new modern Ford fire truck. The committee was composed of the three commissioners, Martin Eaton, William Wentworth, Winburn Dudley, fire chief Wilfred Nute, Arthur Fox and Louis Tibbetts. The new fire truck was purchased, and was the pride and joy of the village. A picture shows the truck, with the dedicated volunteer firemen of that time, consisting of Wilfred Nute, Harold Pippin, Dan Wilson, Fred Dudley, Arnold Wentworth, Abbott Joy, Robert Anderson, John Pratt, Earl Wentworth, Johnnie Nason, and Mason Joy. In 1956 a second fire truck was purchased and the old Model A sold to Mir Gagnon of Gonic, which he was still using as of 1974. In 1974, a larger and more powerful International fire truck was purchased by the town of Wakefield for Union's use.

In June 1975, the firemen cleaned up the debris in back of the fire station and the water dowsers showed their skill, locating water near the south corner of the station. Then Malcolm Joy showed his skill by cleverly locating it and low and behold if the divining rod didn't turn upward instead of downward. This was a first viewing of such an occurrence by all present. A well was then dug, and piped into the station. In 1975, Wilfred Nute, after 39 years of service to the fire department, 28 as chief, retired. He was honored and thanked by the town at a celebration in Drew Chapel in January 1976. In 1981, the firemen built an outdoor fireplace, just in time for the annual clambake.

Down back of the fire station is a long building (5-7) built by Frank Farnham when he owned the excelsior mills. It has four bays used for storage and a large bay for a barn. Roland Stevens opened a garage in the largest bay during the 1920s. Later, years after W. M. Lord and then Arthur Fox owned it, Alphonse Kimball and daughter Bertha lived there (in the 1940s). Then James Russell and his father and mother lived there in the 1950s. It was later bought by Ken Laskey, who used it for his wife Arlene's riding horses. In 1970 he sold it to Robert, Richard, and Ronald Kinville.

The next building (5-8) was originally the bowling alley from Bridge Street. It was bought by Hattie Stevens (wife of Hiram) for her son Roland, who moved it to this location and converted it to a garage. Reid Dixon did some upholstering in the annex that had been built on the south side. Louis Tibbetts bought it from Hattie Stevens in the 1940s. After returning from World War II, Kenneth Laskey opened it as Laskey's Garage. Ken, and his number one man, Roland (Seth) Pike of Milton Mills, did a good business for years, greeting all customers with a smile. He built a large addition in 1953, requiring a lot of land fill. The annex was taken off and moved to Middleton.

A new building (5-9) was built between the fire station and the garage in 1968 for a snowmobile showroom and shop. In 1970 Robert, Richard and Ronald Kinville bought the business, buildings, and field behind it. They later built a large garage (5-10), designed to handle heavy equipment, in the field behind the garage (adjacent to the old ice skating pond Ken Laskey built in the 1960s). In November 1978, the Kinvilles closed down the garage. It was opened again for business in February 1979 by William Hooper (son of Ralph Hooper of Brookfield), who had run a Texaco station in Wolfeboro for years. When the garage proper burned down in 1980s, the Kinvilles conducted business out of the rear building before releveling the lot, and rebuilding the garage.

A view of Main Street from this point north as it was in the late 1960s - early 1970s is shown here.

The Old Hospital (5-11) was built by Frank Moore and Al Woods about 1880. William E. Wiggin, wife Laura, and son Stanley, occupied it, followed by Jennie Stevens in 1906, John Stevens in 1911, Nellie Stevens in 1913, Dr. Harold Ross in 1914, Dr. Burleigh Mansfield in 1916. Dr Ross, along with Dr. Stevens, used the building as a hospital. Buddy Dame was born here, and Vila Hill had been a patient here. Sanford Trust owned the building in 1918, then Edith Ross in 1919, Samuel Kimball briefly in 1919, Arthur Moulton in November 1919. Arthur Moulton was a storekeeper, deacon of the church, 50 year Mason, and selectman of Wakefield (born 1881, died 1970). His wife, Maude, was born in 1883, died in 1936. Winburn and Pauline (Moulton) Dudley started housekeeping upstairs. The house then passed back to Kimball and Bailey and Blendiger until June 12, 1944, when Walter Chesborough bought it. David and Edith Bailey lived here from 1936-47 with Martha, Janet, Priscilla, and William, while they operated the knife factory across the street. Martha and John Pratt were married here at a lawn wedding. Louis and Arlene Tibbetts bought it in 1947, and lived here until 1986, when they sold the place to Jimmy and Kathie (Nason) Damon. Kathie is the current librarian at the new Union Free Library, having taken over from Arlene Tibbetts as librarian at the "old" library in 1987. The "Little Red Barn" behind the main house was built in 1952, used first to house a pet heifer, and then converted into guest quarters. In the barn, attached to the main house, signs of the extent of the 1923 fire are still visible - the barn started out at 2 stories, but the top story burned - the badly burned parts were removed, and a new, lower roof installed - the charred timbers are still quite evident inside.

Next is the Dan Burley house (5-12), built soon after 1850, now called "Old Hundred". Over the years, it has passed through many hands. One of the earlier men to live here, soon after 1900, was Howard Atherton. There were two sports he enjoyed - one was riding motorcycles, and the other was boxing. Nathan Littlefield, who lived in the house next door (the old hospital) and worked in Lord's Store, was also fond of boxing, and was lightweight, fast, and clever with his hands and feet. They always kept two sets of gloves in the back room of the store, and when things were quiet out front, these two would be out back, putting on their gloves and stepping up the pace of living. In 1924, James Newton, a minister, lived here. Others who followed included Leon Hill, Charles Lowe (died 1939, wife Adelia - came to Union in 1882), and Robert Lowe. Many tenants have come and gone during the 1950s-1970s. When Clarence Peaslee came here from Providence, Rhode Island, and had bought the undertaking business of Homer Lowe in 1947, he lived here for two years. Robert Peaslee bought the place in 1977, and had the barn taken down and carted away to make room for a larger parking lot. The stone retaining wall supporting the yard between this house and the one to the north was built by Tim Tibbetts in 1977.

The house (5-13) to the north is the Pike Gilman house. In 1919, Fred Dudley, Superintendent of Schools, lived upstairs, and Pike Gilman, a railroad man, lived downstairs. His widow, Mary, died in 1933, and Arthur Fox bought the house. Arthur lived here a few years, then sold it to Charles and June Barbour. Clarence and Vera Peaslee bought it in 1949, after living for two years next door at "Old Hundred". Clarence remodeled the interior, making living quarters upstairs, and converting the downstairs into a nice funeral home. Clarence died in October 1973, but his son, Robert, and granddaughter, Christine, carry on the family business at this location, as well as at locations in Farmington, Alton, and Sanbornville. They added a swimming pool to the north of the house in 1977. Clarence was a good neighbor and a good friend - I miss him.

The Samuel and Mary Runnels place (5-14) is next. Sam was born in Union in 1855, left for a while, and then returned in 1891, eventually dying in Union in 1934. He was a blacksmith by trade, and known for jollification at house raisings. Possibly this hard-cider-and-rum-induced jollification (considered essential at any house raising in those days), explains why the frame for this house was installed upside down, resulting in a low-posted downstairs, and high ceiling upstairs! He was also an early riser, and in the early morning hours in the summer could be seen swinging in the lawn chair dressed in his nightshirt. He bought the house from Joe Quimby in 1899 - at the time, there were two families living in the house. Fred Wentworth lived in the other side. They had two daughters, Elizabeth (Lib) and Martha. Elizabeth married Howard Atherton the night after graduation from Nute High School - after Howard's death, she married William Bailey at an outdoor wedding and they moved to Connecticut. Martha married David Hale, remarrying after his death and moving to West Palm Beach, Florida, where William and Lib had a retirement place as well.

Brad Boothby bought this house in 1956 and then married Rose Johanson of Waltham, Massachusetts. They changed the looks of the house by removing a front porch and building a stone wall in front. A picture of the house in the 1980s is shown here. A large outdoor fireplace was also built, a well was drilled, and much interior remodeling accomplished. Brad and Rose divorced, with Brad moving to Concord, and Rose staying in the house. Rose put a new roof on the south side of the barn and repainted the place harvest gold. They also had an artesian well drilled. Rose died in 1989, and the current owners are her nieces. The house is for sale at the present time.

The next house (5-15) is one of the oldest in the village, and was built by the parents of Howard Beacham. Howard was born in this house in 1871. He married Hattie (born 1871-1946). After Hattie's death, he married Leah Herbert of Wolfeboro, and lived here with her until his death in 1962. Leah sold to William and Anita Huckins in 1969. Leah died in 1972.

The "Block" (5-16), so called, was built by a man named Frederick. It was a store in front (a grocery store and a grain store at the turn of the century), a tenement in back, and a tenement upstairs. The building was owned by Raymond Pike from 1910 to 1917, followed by John Wentworth who had a jewelry shop and then sold in 1921 to Fred Dame, who had an ice cream parlor. Fred died in 1932. John Bowen of East Rochester bought it and had apartments on both floors. During the 1940s and 1950s, Olive Thompson had a beauty shop and also lived here with her mother Edith Hanrahan. After their deaths, Robert Baril, a salesman for General Electric, and his wife, Josephine (a daughter of Olive) closed out the personal property, taking some with them to their new retirement home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Previously, they had spent a great deal of time here, caring for the two older ladies with loving care. The last tenant upstairs was Harley Sanborn, when the place was sold to Allen Farrell, a carpenter, in 1971. Farrell made extensive repairs inside and out. The building was bought by Kinville Corporation in 1975.The building is now an attractive 3 apartment dwelling, made so by the present owner.

[Wadleigh House (Main Street and Middleton Hill Road) in 2004]The large Victorian style house (5-17) on the corner of Main Street and the Middleton Hill Road was recently known as the Frank Wadleigh home, formerly the Highland View Farm. It was built to accommodate summer tourists in 1896 by Andrew Hall and Fred Wentworth. Mary Wadleigh died in 1931, Frank in 1936. For years, Frank kept cows and had a milk route, in the summer driving his cows up the main road and by the church to his pasture along the Hunneford River, or down Maple Street to a pasture east of the ball diamond. This task later fell into the hands of Don Williams, a grandson of Frank. Two daughters, Francis and Charlotte, spent their working years in Massachusetts, and this place was their weekend and summer vacation home. Francis taught for one year at Nute High School (where she was my English teacher in 1917) before going to teach at Danvers High School, while Charlotte worked in an office. Francis and Charlotte came back here to live after retiring. After Francis retired, she married Ernest Scott, a childhood friend and retired station agent, who unfortunately only lived a short while longer. Francis had a desire to become active in the chapter of the Eastern Star, and in due time became its worthy matron. Many of her old friends and scholars from Danvers High came to her installation and afforded her many loving words and remembrances. Francis was taken sick and had to spend her remaining years in a convalescent home in Dover. Charlotte was forced to sell the place to the Hoisingtons of Maynard, Massachusetts, at this time (August 1973), and moved to smaller quarters in Farmington. Edmund and Nancy Hoisington, along with four children, Steven, Scott, Janice, and Dianne moved in. In 1975 they sold the place to Phillip Lewis, moving to South Dakota.

Now returning south to the railroad crossing, and heading north along the east side of Main Street, the first building (5-18), wedged between the train tracks and Main Street, is the George Kimball block. It was built by Robert Pike for a close friend, Sarah Fuller, for a dress shop, about 1896. It was sold in 1916 to Everett DeLand, and later to George Kimball. This building has had many uses down through the years. The Post Office has been in both sides downstairs - Jim Reed was Postmaster at the time the Post Office moved to the railroad station. A novelty shop was here during the summers, and upstairs a pool room and a barber shop run by Reuben Trafton. Nathan Littlefield boxed here whenever he could find an opponent. One night he was boxing when someone opened the door just as Nathan stepped back to escape a strong right. His head hit the door a hard blow, and he hit the floor equally hard. That night he had to be carried home - it might have been called a technical knockout. A Cloverleaf Store was operated by Harry Woodman in the late 1920s, followed by an A&P store, and then the Emerson Dame Store. A fire damaged the store in the 1950s. It was later converted to a library and tenement downstairs, and a tenement upstairs. The library moved out to its current location on Maple Street in 1991. The split stone in the foundation of the building, along with that used at the Plummer Cemetery, in front of the VFW Hall front drive, and many other places, came from the quarry on John Jones farm in Middleton. This is also the site of the first building in Union, built by Samuel and Joseph Haines in 1775. Joseph, grandfather of George W., once owned all of Union Village.

The next house (5-19) north has been known as the Fred Wentworth house, or Herbert Stevens place. Reuben Trafton, a barber by trade, lived here for many years. It was bought by George Kimball in September 1939, and occupied by Vila Hill, his sister, from the 1940s until her death in the 1980s. In 1994, the house was torn down and the grounds landscaped.

The old Applebee place (5-20) was built by S. L. Hutchins in 1889. J. Frank and Ora Farnham, with daughter Hazel, lived here. Frank died in 1933, and Hazel married a classmate from Nute, John Kennett of Silver Lake and moved to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where John had a store. He died at a young age, and Hazel died in the 1960s. Earl and Virginia Wentworth bought the place about 1942, while Earl was in the service. They raised three children here, Alan, Connie, and Joyce. George Kimball built an electric railroad behind the house in 1950, complete with engine and cars for the children. Many neighborhood children enjoyed rides on this railroad during the 1950s and 1960s. It was later removed after they outgrew it. The current garage is built approximately on the site of the old garage, which burned in the 1923 fire.

[Louis Tibbetts and Tibbetts' Country Store at it's 20th anniversary - February 1963]The first owner of the store building (5-21) was a Herman Moulton. He operated a tin shop and also peddled his wares by horse and cart. Sam Hutchins and Frank Farnham were here for a while before the turn of the century. In 1900, when the building was the W. M. Lord Store, it had the only telephone in the village. There was a tailor shop upstairs. At the time of the big fire, Arthur and Maude Moulton (from Sandwich) were operating the store and lived upstairs. They were away on that fateful Sunday in 1923, but daughter Pauline was home and saw smoke coming out of the George Hammond barn building near the Union Hotel. She rushed across the street to warn her grandparents (who were living in one of the buildings ultimately destroyed by the fire) of the fire, returned, and with the help of Winburn Dudley and others, they moved the furniture out, across the railroad tracks, and down onto the bank of the river. Unfortunately, the efforts of the bucket brigade could not save the store.

When it was rebuilt, it was as the present one story building. The current building can be seen on the left in Figure 19. In the late 1930s, Moses Chamberlain bought the building. Robert Lowe became the proprietor following Arthur Moulton. On February 1, 1943, I bought the business from Homer L. Lowe, who had followed his son Robert. The building and land was sold to me on September 6, 1945. In the next 27 years it was known near and far as Tibbetts' Country Store, the place to stop for good cheese and meats, and large deluxe frappes to take away many a hunger pain. The washed curd cheese we carried was a favorite, going to faraway homes with many vacationing travelers passing through town.

On February 1, 1970, George and Caroline Worster bought the land, building, and business, and it became known as Worster's Country Store. They made many changes, including the addition of a large refrigerated room where part of the side porch had been, to house chilled beverages. It was then sold to Fred Gray of East Rochester in May 1974, who later sold it to the Kinvilles, who in turn sold it to Bob Vachon, the current proprietor.

As we look back to the early days of stores in Union Village, they would resemble the pictures we have seen many times on calendars and in magazines, depicting the familiar pot bellied stove, well loaded with good hard wood, hot enough to cause the most stubborn individuals to retreat to a cooler spot. On the counter rested a crock of some pickles, and nearby a barrel of common crackers, back of which was a wheel of strong cheddar cheese. These together often furnished lunch to many a hearty eater. These things gradually gave place to more modern foods, except for the old fashioned stores which liked to preserve some of the charm of a bygone era.

I did have a stove in the center of my store, but it was an oil burner. A pickle jar would find its way to my counter beside a long glass jar full of chocolates. The tasty cheese was always nearby, although the crackers had mostly retreated to boxes piled high on the shelf. However, cookies were now displayed in glass-covered caddies with twenty or more varieties, saltines and fancy crackers among them. The kerosene pump in the back of the store had replaced the fifty gallon drum that used to sit on props. The vinegar barrel remained, for a while, topped and ready to fill gallon jugs. For many years the molasses barrel stood upright with its pump ready to spew the sticky stuff. In summer it was in the back store, but cool weather found it moved to a warmer place. This real Barbados molasses (made from whole sugar cane, with the sugar left in, and no sulfur dioxide added for preservation) had been popular and in much demand for years, until the time came when nearly everyone wanted a ready-packed jar of Grandma's Molasses. So the molasses barrel came to the end of its stay - the last customers it served at my store were William Wilson and Myrtle Walker, both of whom have also since departed.

Next was the site of an old saw mill (5-22) where Luther Cate and others did an extensive lumber business. Sam Hutchins ran the place in 1853. It was purchased by the Great Falls and Conway Railroad Company for the manufacture of car stock. It then became a chair factory of Reuben Sanborn. He carried on this business for few years, then built the previously mentioned chair factory (which burned in 1891) on the site of the 1960-1986 Post Office. During this period, the mill was destroyed by fire and rebuilt. Then J. F. and J. E. Hart came into possession of the mill, and manufactured lumber and excelsior. Later, J. F. Hart sold his share to his brother and went to Tacoma, Washington. The annual output of excelsior was 2500 tons. At one time, there was a hay scale in front of the mill. It was known as Hart's Mill, but at the time of the fire in 1923, it went by the name of Boston Excelsior Mill. Frank Farnham first owned half and then later came into full possession of the mill.

The mill was bought around 1930, after Frank retired, by William M. Lord, who gave the mill its present basic shape. He had the big two and one half story building that had been sitting out over the water moved to its present location on solid ground. The Hilton Goodwin house at the north end of the mill was torn down, to allow George Drew and son Harold to build the long addition. This was to satisfy the needs of Bailey and Blendiger, manufacturers of veneer knives, when they moved into the building in 1933, coming from Woburn, Massachusetts in search of a more favorable labor situation. The death of David Bailey, and later his father, was the beginning of the end of this old New England industry. It was managed by imported businessmen, but each change resulted in decreased sales, until finally it was bought by a firm in the same type of business from Indiana, and the business was dissolved and the machinery sold.

In 1958, it was opened for the rebuilding of TV picture tubes, and known as the White Mountain Electronics Company. Things went well for a while, then financial difficulties, plus a need for closer supervision for management, and once again the doors were closed. Russell Chick, formerly of Woodman, a very capable electronics man who had attained previous success with some larger companies, was the owner. Robert Donnelly, Ken Jordan (Chick's son-in-law) of Wolfeboro, and Harry Weeks of East Wakefield were members of the firm.

Robert Rivers of Winthrop, Massachusetts, with a shop in the Back Bay section of Boston, who wanted more room and a place to stretch his legs, bought this plant in 1966. He did some renovation, including insulating, adding combination windows, etc. It became the home of his company, Aircom, which manufactured a variety of electrical and microwave components, many small and to very close tolerances. He also operates an engineering manpower survey newsletter out of the location these days. Gladys (Mickey) Harris was in charge of his office for many of the early years it was in operation, before leaving to work at DiPrizio's in 1975. She was followed at Aircom by LuAnn (Pratt) Sceggell. The number of employees has always been small, but the work was steady for many years. A few years ago, some space was let out for a sort of mall, with some small retail operations moving in.

The old engine house (5-23) behind the mill, just south of the dam, was slowly falling in ruins, and has been nearly brought down, except for a portion of the brick walls.

Our earlier mills were saw mills and grist mills, both operated by water power, the most available and economic power of the times. The first grist mills were stone mills, 2 big round flat stones with slots cut in them to grind the corn as it was fed to pass between them. The result was good coarse corn meal, in its natural state, nothing taken away, nothing added to change its flavor. The same mills were also used to grind wheat and rye into flour. Corn meal was a mainstay for most homes, as the majority of families raised and dried corn, then took it to the mill to be ground. Later days found the grist stones replaced with more modern milling machines. Frequently, mills could be converted from grist to saw mills (or visa versa), as the required water power was already in place. The early saw mills used vertical saws, only later adopting the more modern circular (invented in the early 1800s by the Shakers) or band saws found in today's lumber mills.

Prior to the building of the new addition to the mill, there was a small house near the Chamberlain house that was torn down. Hilton Goodwin lived in it at that time.

Next is the Al Chamberlain house (5-24) (also known as the Durrell place), which, in the early days, was owned by a man of strong convictions, and perhaps with religious inclinations, who had sessions of praying loud and long for his troublesome son, a delight for his neighbors, who enjoyed his varying prayers. In the 1930s, William Stalnaker came to town when the new road was built, and married Evelyn Shea in December 1932. They lived here with their two sons. Later, they moved to Florida. Hervey Pinkham and wife bought and lived here a short time, after selling their farm in Middleton, until Hervey's fatal heart attack. In 1947, Glen and Marion Nason bought it, and lived here until they bought the Jackson house on South Main in 1958, and rented this one out. In 1966, John and Martha Pratt bought it for son David and Sandy Pratt. After Dave and Sandy moved to the George Pratt place on South Main, it was sold to Harold and Mary Kaplan. Harold was at Spaulding Fibre and studying forestry at UNH. After obtaining his degree, he took employment with a South Carolina forestry company, and the moved away in 1974. The house was sold to William Smith (who worked in Vachon's Store in Milton) in 1974. William moved in with wife Loreen and children Vicky, Lois, and Shawn. In the fall of 1975, dark red vinyl siding was added.

The Charles Wentworth homestead (5-25) was built in the 1880s by a man with the name of Drew. The manure pit in the barn cellar has a floor of 3 foot square granite blocks, quarried at the Jones farm in Middleton, where so much of the granite used in walls and foundations here in Union came from. [This quarry was just beyond the Jones Farm and around a bend near the swamp. A road to the north beyond the farm of John H. Sindorf off the S. Wolfeboro Road leads one to it.] Charles Drew (1865-1945) owned this house in 1890, and he and his wife Clara (1871-1932) had several children - Roscoe, Robert, Homer, Gladys, Ruth, and William. They all made their home in Union, but in later life Homer moved to Rochester. James Drew lived here many years. The place was probably owned by Thoder Gilman, at some point. After the death of Charles Wentworth, Walter and Gladys (Wentworth) Chesborough bought the place. Arthur and Hazel Chandler lived here for a while, before buying a trailer and moving to Pittsburg, NH, to the farm of Arthur's grandson. (They lasted one winter, then moved back to Union, placing their trailer on the Brakeville's property, north of the church. In 1966, Arthur died, followed by Hazel, and the trailer was moved away). Currently, the house is owned by Fred Gray.

The next house (5-26) north was owned by Edward Emery, and then Arnold and Rachel (Downs) Wentworth with sons David and Dennis in the 1940s. This family was a nice addition to Union, giving freely of their time and talents - but Wolfeboro beckoned, and Arnold became their Chief of Police - Wolfeboro's gain and Union's loss. Reginald and Ann Williams were the next owners, until they moved to Milton, and sold it to Donald and Josephine Libby in 1959. This is one of the oldest houses in Union.

On the next lot north was a house (5-27) that was owned, and perhaps built by Thoder Gilman, an old name in this area. At one time, Al Woods ran a store downstairs. James Tucker, the first master of Unity Lodge of F. and A.M. was an engineer on the railroad and lived here in the 1850s before moving to Sanbornville. It is possible he may have moved to Sanbornville when the railroad was extended to Sanbornville in 1871. Two of his daughters were born here, and one married Willis Hansen, another railroad man, well known here and also a member of Unity Lodge. The other daughter married Irving Rice, a railroad engineer and another member of Unity Lodge. He later moved to Dover and lived to the ripe old age of 98, dying in 1957, at which time he had been a member of Unity Lodge for 75 years. This was a sad but memorable occasion when several members of our lodge motored to Dover to perform the Masonic funeral service with many Masons from Dover attending the rites. Dr. Ernest Calvert, Union's minister at the time, assisted me on this occasion. The house was also owned by Justin Moore, followed by Laura Emery in 1921. In the early 1930s, Dr. Philip and Alice Kimball lived here for a few years, with the doctor's office in the lower level. John Lavertue (who died on his way home from work in Sunset Village from a heart attack in 1970) bought it in the 1960s. After John's death, it was owned by Tatrie Real Estate of Farmington, prior to its purchase by John Abbott. It burned in January 1971, a bitterly cold period, with the fire department water freezing almost as soon as it hit. All that was left was the barn. The lot and barn were bought by Don Libby, who landscaped and remodeled the barn. The lot was graded, and a retaining wall built in 1973.

The last house (5-28) before Maple Street is the John Prescott house. Prescott sold it to a Wentworth (who moved to Rochester and operated a store on Winter Street) who in turn sold to Robert and Agnes Wentworth in 1925. Their son Roger lived in the Belle Sinclair house on Chapel Street until his death.

Click here for Chapter 6

Click here for the Table of Contents

Return to the home page of Tim, Sandy, Clara and Lucy

Last web page update was April 25, 2005.

Copyright © 2000-2005 - Copyright and contact details.