A History of Union, New Hampshire (USA)



Louis E. Tibbetts

Chapter 6 - East Union (Maple Street)

We now cross the river to the east side of Union, which is shown in Map 6.

A truck damaged the side of the Maple Street Bridge (6-1) in 1973. The steel stringered bridge was completely torn out and a new cement and steel bridge was built by Carl Myers over galvanized culverts.

Across the river was the old Fred Garland blacksmith shop (6-2), and a small shoe repair shop. The building was later converted to a house by Robert Pike and then owned by George Garland, followed by Robert Wilder, and then Howard and Elizabeth Atherton (who married in June 1921) and their daughter Lillian, who later moved to Georgia. More recently, the house was owned by Carroll (Caddy) and Janet Shea, and their two children, Carroll (Snooky) and Sally. A mobile home (6-3) was moved onto the lawn of the Shea's house in the fall of 1973, where Edith Bailey Woods, mother of Janet, lived. On the other side of their house is a pretty "doll" house, just this side of where the old cider mill used to be, that was operated by Frank Leighton. The Sheas also put in an ice skating pond between their house and the railroad tracks, which was a source of much enjoyment by the village children in past years.

Across the street from the Shea's house and in the mill yard is a house (6-4) built by Tom Pike. It was later known as the Drew house. It was owned by William M. Lord, and was bought by Carl Sieman with the buying of the old excelsior mill.

The excelsior mill (6-5) was built by Tom Pike, and Sam Hutchins was the first owner. The water wheel furnished power for the mill until the steam boiler and an engine house was built about 1909. Figure 20 shows the mill while still water-powered. Figure 21 provides another view of the mill, with the brass foundry visible on the left side of the dam. The original water wheel did not furnish power enough for the whole mill and a new water wheel was built and installed and lasted until the mill was demolished in 1965. It was later owned by William M. Lord, and run as William M. Lord Company Inc. Carl Sieman of Branch Hill and Connecticut took it over, and demolished it in 1965. The high water tower had been demolished previously, taking off a corner of John Pratt's old warehouse in the process, while a large group of sidewalk superintendents looked on.

Next door to the large mill, a small mill (6-6) and garage were built a few years ago. A different type of excelsior machines was installed, but they did not prove satisfactory and were used only a short time. The office was later occupied by Fox Real Estate, and the garage occupied by Carroll Shea. In March 1973 the new mill was taken over by Treasure Masters Manufacturing Corporation of Derry, New Hampshire. They started operation with five men and began making wooden coat hangers. Later they added more employees and diversified their product line. A new addition was built onto the front of the boiler room in the fall of 1973. Treasure Masters went out of business in the early 1980s, and a man who manufactured electrical components rented the building for a while. Currently, it is vacant.

Years ago there was a box shop in back of the excelsior mill. That building burned in 1903. In later years there was a building used as a machine shop for the mill. That was torn down.

Across the Boston and Maine railroad tracks and left on Brewster Road are three houses on the old road that went south, down through the ball field and coming out on the Branch Hill Road near the Spinny House. This road is still passable to some vehicles part of the way. The first house (6-7) was the Everett Wiggin home. This house was later bought by Arthur Fox, who sold it to Patrick and Florence (Reed) Shea about 1942. Rusty Shea and his mother lived there for many years. After her death in August 1974, Rusty bought a mobile home (6-8) and had it moved to a place in back of the Shea home, where he moved in. In 1970s Carroll and Janet Shea moved into this house.

The next house (6-9) was owned by a Waldron, then Edwin (1864-1953) and Inez (1871-1939) Reed moved in. They had children Florence, Theodore, Ira Russell, Maude Nason, Hazel Horne, Arthur, and Hohn. Ed and Inez Reed had moved to Union from Freedom when Florence was a baby and started housekeeping in the basement of the Weiman house, later moving here. This became their permanent home. Theodore and Zena Reed took care of them both and lived there until their deaths. The current occupants are Gary and Sally (Shea) Burr, who moved here from Chapel Street.

The third house (6-10) is the Lover house, which was owned by Frank Hanscomb, then Ren Leighton's sister Olive Leighton, followed by Frank Holmes, a brother of Emma Greenlaw. Guy and Emma Greenlaw were the next owners. Guy was a Pullman conductor for many years. He was the holder of the Boston Post Cane (traditionally held by the oldest resident of Union) when he died in 1975 at age 93. During the funeral service, as minister Marshall Stevenson finished the eulogy, the gravel train went through town, blowing its whistle as though it were a signal to Guy that they were there to carry him home. Upon Guy's death, Emma Greenlaw became the holder of the Boston Post Cane. Raymond Marsh, son of Emma, and wife Margaret lived in one side of the house.

Back down on Maple Street, still on the east side, is the house (6-11) built for and owned by Samuel Hutchins, then Blanche Barbour. Guy Smith lived here a few years before moving to Milton. Walter and Gladys Chesborough lived here next. Walter converted his hen house into a shop for shaping molds for shoe shops. This building burned in 1934 and he rebuilt in 1935. This shop (6-12) was then operated by William Wentworth (brother of Gladys Chesborough) from 1951 as the Novelty Machine Shop until he sold the business to Spaulding Fibre in 1975 and bought a retirement mobile home in Florida.

The next house (6-13) was built and owned by Samuel Hutchins. Later it was owned by Lester Johnson (died 1933). Blanche Barbour (Samuel Hutchin's daughter) owned it next, and sold it to Fred and Harriett Dudley (he was Superintendent of Schools) in 1924. Harriett was my first customer when I started a milk route in 1933. Later the house passed to Winburn and Pauline (Moulton) Dudley. After the Dudleys passed away, grandson Kenny and wife moved in, staying here until his father, Freddy Dudley, died, when Kenny and family moved to Freddy's house. The Donny Gray family then moved into this house.

The Ed Wiggin place (6-14) is next. It was later owned by Orpheus (1880-1960) and Carrie L. (18??-1939) Smith, followed by Arthur Moulton, Louis and Lillian Burpee, and William and Blanche Wentworth in 1941.

The following house (6-15) was built by Samuel Hutchins in 1890 for $10,000. He moved here from Brookfield with his wife (a sister of John Corson, she died in 1939) in 1890 (he died in 1902), and Blanche, their only child, was born three months later. Blanche was a schoolteacher in Sanbornville, Milton Mills, and Union, with a few years spent in Washington. She married a Barbour and had one son. When she died in 1972, the house was left to a granddaughter who sold it to a realtor from Farmington. The realtor restored the house to its traditional beauty, and sold it to the Bell family.

The land for the next house (6-16) was given by Samuel Hutchins to Arthur Taft, providing he would build a house of value equal to his own. Mr. Hutchins built the house about 1895, and Mr. Taft told me, if in the building a hammer mark was made on a clapboard or shingle, it had to be replaced. The building, like the Hutchins house, shows superb craftsmanship throughout. Arthur Taft married Nellie Dunham of Dudley, Massachusetts and came to Union about 1894. The Tafts had three children, Roy Taft, May (Taft) Brackett of Rockport, Massachusetts, and Isabelle (Taft) Fox. Mr. Taft died in 1933. After Mr. and Mrs. Taft had both passed away, daughter Isabelle and husband Arthur Fox came here from the Pike Gilman house on Main Street. The place was bought by John and Marie Hunter of Coral Gables, Florida, and New Portsmouth, New Hampshire (Indian Rock Farm) in April 1977. Even given the large house, cellars, and barn, John had to tremendously thin down his collection of books, pool tables, Pachinko machines, etc., to fit in. He died January 26, 1979. John's son, Frank is the current owner.

Ralph Emerson Abbott and wife Helen, a schoolteacher, had a new house (6-17) built here in 1942. They had three children, Johnnie, Brian, and then on second thought along came Susan. Emerson was one of the always reliable ball players, when baseball was a way of life in Union.

Helen Abbott's parents, Burton and Flora Gould had moved in a new mobile home (6-18) adjacent to the Abbotts in 1959. In 1961 Burton built a new garage, and kept in this building his pride and joy, an old, reliable, and running Stanley Steamer. After Burton died, Susan (Abbott) Soucy, husband Tom, and kids Shane and Heather moved in. In 1993, the mobile home was removed, and construction begun on their new home (6-33), which was completed in 1994.

Further down the road, Fred and Francis Dudley built a new home (6-19) and garage (a very large garage to take his big trucks and equipment) in 1970. Franny had a stroke and died, followed by Fred. Then son Kenny and family moved in.

A long time ago, Tom Pike had built a canal and mill about east of the Lyle Drew mill, where he built lawn swings, windows, clotheshorses, pudding sticks, etc. At one time he operated a cider mill here.

There are several relatively new houses that would normally have been just below this area, but due to the new (1965/6) highway, the area has been severed and one must follow the new highway to reach them. One is on the road to the old ball diamond, and the other is in "left field". The first house (6-20) was built by John and Mona Abbott in 1971. The house (6-21) in left field was built by Richard (Dicky) Dudley, the son of Fred Dudley, in 1972. In 1975 another house (6-22) was erected by Ralph and Pat Currier and boys.

Heading back into town, on the west side of Maple Street, just before Bridge Street, is the new home (6-23) of Carroll (Snooky) and Sue Shea, built in the winter of 1980/1981.

Heading across Bridge Street, we come to the new concrete bridge (6-24), built in 1971 to replace the old wooden structure (see Figure 23). Harry Eastman was the contractor, and Kenneth Laskey did most of the carpentry work on the floor of the bridge and the rails.

Across the bridge and on the left is the old Blacksmith Shop (6-25). It was built by Iva Trefton's grandfather prior to 1848, and was a marble and granite shop (before he built a marble and granite shop on the west side of the railroad tracks near the crossing in 1848). It has the old round millstone with the center cut out, used to set the tires on wagon wheels. Samuel Runnels operated it for many years and made his daily pilgrimage to his old shop he loved so much until the end.

One day while at work in his shop, Sam heard a commotion outside, and, going out of doors, discovered a horse, wagon, and man floundering in the river. He took one look and said "I guess they are all right", and returned to his work. Albert Stevens had tried to turn horse and wagon around on the bridge, and found there wasn't room - as they backed up, they backed off the bridge.

Sam was a good blacksmith and followed his trade for many years. If he didn't speak to you on occasion, it didn't mean that he was angry with you, but just his way of life. He had two daughters, Elizabeth and Martha. Sam was both blacksmith and wheelwright. On one occasion he went by a house where a goat was feeding in the yard. As the man living here had failed to pay his just debt, Sam took the occasion to collect the bill by taking the goat home with him. The goat fared well by pruning all the bushes and shrubs around the yard, but all good things come to an end, and in a few days a sheriff came by and took the goat back to its rightful owners. I never did hear whether Sam was able to collect the bill due.

Occasionally Sam would go with Martin Eaton to the horse races at Scarborough, Maine, and he was in his glory if he could pester someone with pointed remarks. Always a passenger on the back seat, he loved to help Mart with the driving. So Mart put a sign on his windshield visor, and, as the atmosphere got rather warm on one of these trips, he flipped the visor down. Sam read the sign warning him to mind his own business, and, as could be expected from Sam, all was quiet the rest of the trip.

The blacksmith building was later owned by Arthur Fox, and used by Emerson Abbott for storage. It is currently owned by Arthur's son, Marshall.

The next building (6-26) was built by Robert Pike about the turn of the century as a paint and carriage shop to care for his livery stable needs. It was then owned by Frank Farnham, who sold it to William Stalnaker to be used as a garage. It was later sold to Arthur Fox, and Marshall Fox put overhead doors on it and used it for storage.

The building that used to be across the street, a former bowling alley, was moved to Main Street years ago and became Roland Stevens garage. This building was also the site of wrestling matches - the participants included Ralph Laskey, Herbert Wentworth (brother of Carrie Downs), and Howard Atherton.

The next building (6-27) is a large marble and granite works building, built by Robert Lowe in the 1950s or 1960s as an adjunct to the next building west, the marble shop of Myron Johnson (which he and his father bought in 1899 from Homer Lowe's father, Charles Lowe), which was moved from across the railroad tracks. Homer Lowe bought it from Myron in 1931, and, converting it to a nice home, lived the rest of his life here with his wife Eva. He also built a garage and funeral parlor on the lower level. After selling his undertaking business to Clarence Peaslee in 1947, he converted these rooms to an apartment. Robert and Alex Lowe moved into the house proper after Eva's death, bringing Alex's father Sam McDougal with them. Sam died in 1973 and the following fall they closed this house and spent the winter in Florida. Betty (Lowe) Nichols' husband "Nick" worked with Robert for several years, commuting daily from Freedom, until sickness forced him to retire. According to the Granite State News of March 1, 1973, the Union Marble and Granite Works was sold to Richard and Vickie Esperence of Rochester, and later of Mexico, working for Sprague Electric. The current owners and operators of the works are the Gray family, John and son Craig.

Returning to the west side of Maple Street, just north of Bridge Street, is the house (6-28) of Marshall and Priscilla (Drew) Fox. It was built in the 1960s by Harold Drew, Pat's father, a superb workman.

The next house (6-29) was at one time the Victor Pippin place, followed by Annie Pippin. In 1954 this house was bought by Roy and Barbara Stevens, where they raised their five children, Gary, David, Wayne, Donna, and Scott.

The Tanner house (6-30) passed through the hands of Charles Leighton, Frank Pippin, Annette Joy, to Fred and Frances Dudley. They sold it to a realtor, who remodeled and sold to Jeffrey and Joyce Sewall in 1973.

Formerly a three tenement house (6-31), the next building was owned by James Drew and Thoder Gilman. Amanda Smith owned it for a while, and died in 1938. It was then owned by Howard and Ella Weiman (Howard died in 1960). Their children were Isabelle Sanborn, Harris, Howard Jr., Forrest, Francis Gagne, Marion, and Roger.

On the next lot stood an old building that was originally a carriage shop to paint and repair wagons used by the Union House livery stable. Later it was converted into a two tenement house by Robert Pike. At some point, it was owned by Thoder Gilman. It was always (that is, for many years) referred to as the "Barn House". A big square two story house with a porch on the front - it was a four tenement house then. The exterior showed signs of having been painted some fifty years previous to the time it burned one cold winter night - January 7, 1951. I was awakened in the middle of the night by my front doorbell ringing steadily. I jumped out of bed, dashed to the stairs and could see the light from the fire across the mill. Young Donnie Welch was there and said his house was on fire and his mother was in it. Grabbing my slippers, we ran to the fire station and turned in the alarm. In minutes the firemen were there and on their way, but by that time, the old wooden structure was all afire, and Mildred Welch perished in the flames. Fred and Virginia (Stevens) Downs were living upstairs and got out on the piazza roof. Tib and Maude Woodman also escaped, but everyone lost all their belongings.

[George Stevens House (Town Library 1991-2005) in 2004George Stevens bought the lot and built a new home (6-32) in 1952. Upon his death, he willed his house and estate to the Union Congregational Church, who converted the house into a new town library in 1991. Each year, George always had a garden of beautiful dahlias - and he was also known as an expert saw sharpener.

As we leave Maple Street, just a reminder that old deeds show this street was once called Junkins Street. When it was changed to Maple, I do not know.

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