A History of Union, New Hampshire (USA)



Louis E. Tibbetts

Chapter 7 - North Main

We now return to Main Street, northward bound. Map 7 provides a view of this segment of town.

On the right, at the corner of Main and Maple Streets - the original building was a store built by Elijah Wadleigh. At one time he was postmaster and the post office was in this building. Boys used to meet the 7:17 PM train and bring the mail as there wasn't any provision for a mail carrier. This building later burned. When the present railroad station was built in 1912, the old station was moved to this site and became the first part of Howard Atherton's garage (7-1). He specialized in motorcycle repairs. When ill health forced Howard to retire in the 1940s, he sold to Forrest and Gladys French. In 1954 they sold to Bernard Hutchins from Lovell Lake Road, Route 109. He operated it into the 1970s, until it was bought by the Grays. It is currently operated by Donald Gray, son of Frank.

Across the street was the old Frederick house (7-2), also owned by a Mrs. Copp. Later owned by Gilman and Amanda Stevens and their 2 children, then by Dr. John Harriett. Dr. John A. Stevens then owned it, followed by Martin and Florence Eaton. The Eatons came to Union in 1927 from Brookfield, and lived in the Union Hotel before buying this place. Mart was a lumber dealer, farmer, and trader of cattle. They had one son, Forrest. Martin died in 1961. His wife Florence was in a convalescent home and lived for a while after Mart's death. The house was then bought by Charles and Roberta Bosley, who had two children, John and Charlene. He was a retired Army man. The house burned in 1984, and a trailer was moved onto the site in the winter of 1986-7. Figure 24 shows what the Frederick house looked like before burning - it is the second house from the right.

Continuing towards Middleton, one encounters a somewhat steep and potentially treacherous hill - Figure 25 provides an idea of the accumulation of snow, and resultant "passing room" on the hill in winters past.

Robert Pike built this next house (7-3) and gave it to a niece. It was later known as the Oscar Avery house and owned by his wife Josephine, former wife of Fred Nute. It was not a harmonious arrangement and I understand Oscar was asked to leave and he moved to a place in Milton on the Farmington Road. Edwin and Mrs. Green were here in 1934 and then packed their belongings in their car and headed west. They were one of my milk customers, and the day they left I helped them put her sewing machine in their car. The house then passed to Arthur Fox, who sold to Frank and Netty Forsythe in 1948. They had one daughter, Janet (Forsythe) Palmer. Frank died in the 1960s. There was a machine shop back of the house years ago, run by T. D. Pillsbury, known as a lazy man who married Myron Johnson's aunt. It was water powered, by a wheel in the dam across the Hunneford. There was also a tannery out back, with the pits still visible by the Wallace house.

Next is the current Masonic Temple (7-4), formerly a store of Percy Hall. History informs us that the Hunneford Lot E was sold by a Joseph Hunneford to John Haven of Greenland, and sold by him to Avery Hill with a building and one half of the corn mill. It probably was the building at this site which burned in 1870, when Unity Lodge A.F. and A.M. lost everything except the altar, organ, and records, without any insurance. They went to work, raised the money to buy new furniture and equipment and before long were comfortably situated in their new home on the second floor of the new building, with the dining area on the third floor. The modern bathrooms of that era were both cool, drafty, and a long way to the bottom, but are still in good working order. In 1994, the Masonic Hall received the bequest of a wonderful new Hammond organ from the will of Robert Marsh of Sanbornville. The officers and meetings for 1935-1936 are shown in this copy of the 1936 Masonic Schedule.

The store was on the first floor (Swinerton and Hays, and possibly Hall and Asa Brackett). John Howland of Milton Mills had use of part of the store for men's clothing. After the store went out of business, the dining room and kitchen of the lodge were moved to the first floor. $1000 was paid for the building and the land, and in 1905, the lodge received a deed from Andrew Hall. A horse and carriage shed joined this building on the south side and was torn down in the early 1900s. There was a small building connected to the south of the shed that was a heel shop operated by John Hall. The lodge celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1957. Its first master had been James Tucker, a railroad engineer. In 1970 the building was redecorated by William Wentworth, Kenneth Laskey, Elmer Kimball, myself, and a few other part-timers. In June 1977 Snooky Shea installed new rug, followed by reupholstering of all the chairs by Green Mountain Furniture of Ossipee.

The next building (7-5), Hall's Tavern, was built by Major Joshua Hall (1779-1862, Mrs. Hall was a Plummer), and in the Hall family for three generations. For a period, the place was also known as Pillsbury Hall. It was one of the oldest hostelries in the state, having received a liquor license in 1800. On June 3, 1925 it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Eben Taylor and became known as Toxaway Inn. They redecorated it inside and landscaped the area toward the church, having a sweeping circular driveway bordered with lovely flowers and shrubs. They catered to a high class trade for a few years. They had one daughter, Rosalie. In the 1930s, it was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Burke, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Bonasera.

In the 1940s, Robert Kennison bought it and it became a convalescent home. He improved the interior with a new steam heating system and other enhancements, including combination windows. In 1950 William and Ester Campbell bought it and it continued to be a convalescent home. Figure 26 reveals the Toxaway Inn after a snowstorm. In March, 1973 Campbell sold the building to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Taylor for use as a private home. The Taylors painted it blue - a big change from its normal white. It was then bought by Russell and Ruth Hall in 1977, and, on November 18, 1979 a new sign went up - after being Toxaway Inn for about 55 years it became Stone Craft - where the Halls practiced the potters art. This house was built before Pike Hotel of 1850s. It has Indian shutters and a subcellar that is below the regular cellars. The story is told that slaves were kept there overnight as they were being transported to Canada along the Underground Railway. Just north of this house, before reaching the church, by the side of the road, there used to be a wooden pump and watering trough for horses.

Across the street is the site of the brass foundry (see Figure 21) that was demolished in 1940. It was built by Tom Pike and first used as a gristmill, then an excelsior mill operated by Charles E. Varney, then Frank B. Drew. The Albert F. Wood Company, a dealer in general merchandise, manufacturer of brass castings and fittings was here in 1891. Then Ed Hamlin also had a brass factory, moulding and casting brass fittings and other pieces. It was initially powered by a waterwheel at the site of the dam. Fred Stevens of East Rochester bought it from Mr. Hamlin in 1924. Building and land were later bought by William M. Lord. William Wentworth used some of the lumber from the mill to build his camp at Pine River. A hard surface marks the spot where the sand shed used to sit - later it was used as a garage. This location is now owned by Carl Sieman of Branch Hill and Connecticut.

For a while in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a small water wheel located at this dam, with a small building attached, serving more as a tourist attraction than anything else. This has since been removed, and a small hydroelectric plant installed, which generates a substantial amount of electricity.

Still on the east, the next house (7-6) north has a split history - conflicting reports of its origin have it in one case being moved from the Ballard Farm - and in the other case, it supposedly was moved from Middleton. After its arrival here, the house belonged to John and Idella Corson (one daughter, Florence). John Corson was a big, rugged and moderate individual, endowed with dry wit and humor. He was going after his cows one late afternoon, and stopped to talk with Hilton Goodwin, who was working in his garden, close to the road. John, leaning on a fence post, and Hilton stopping work and leaning on his hoe, complained about the slow growth of his potatoes. John says, "Did you put anything under them to heist them?" Hilton looked bewildered and said "What did you say?" John repeated his question, and with still no answer from Hilton, turned and walked away, saying "I thought so, I thought so..." The house was later owned by Henry Becker from 1936-1940. Samuel and Alice McKenzie had the place next, with Sam dying in 1963. Wayne and Janet Palmer moved in during 1964. In 1966 they had an artesian well drilled.

The current Reunion Grange Hall #303 (7-7) was formerly the village schoolhouse until the new school building on the hill was built in 1905. It was originally conveyed to District No. 9, Town of Wakefield by Andrew Hall, May 22, 1862. Prior to the building of the school here shortly thereafter, the school was in a building at this site which was moved to the former home of Fred and Olive Nute (which was razed in 1966, being in the right of way for the new Route 16 bypass). This building was conveyed by the Selectmen of Sanbornville to Charles L. Leighton, November 8, 1913, who financed it for the Grange. The Grange was organized in Middleton and received their charter in 1905. Two meetings were held in the Town Hall in Middleton before moving to Union. Helen Leighton was a charter member and was a very active member, serving as secretary and always ready to give of her time and talent with the music.

Across the street from the Grange is the Union Congregational Church (7-8). There are two different stories as to how we acquired the original part of the church. The Carroll County History of 1889 says it was stolen, cut in two, loaded on ox sleds in the dead of night, and at daybreak it was on the road ready to move to Union.

Another version of the church acquisition story is "Stealing a Meeting House", as related by John Sanborn. After the new church at Wakefield Corner had been built, the old Meeting House ceased to be used. There was a branch of the same religious denomination at Union Village, and not having a desirable place to worship, the people there proposed to move the old Meeting House to their village. Major Hall, one of the leading men, came up with a crew of men and teams and proceeded to take the building down and hall it to Union. A large number of people in this vicinity came to the scene in remonstrance. They felt that as a house of worship was dedicated and consecrated on that particular spot, it would be sacrilegious to remove it. The women knelt on the ground and wept and prayed that God would interpose and stay the proceedings. Some of the men also knelt and prayed, and perhaps said some strong words to themselves, but all without avail. Mr. Sanborn said no violence was offered in opposition, as the church members thought that would be an additional sin. The House was hauled away and set up at Union, where it has served ever since as a place of worship. About 1929 a steeple was built on the church and Mr. Alonzo Kimball gave the bell, which was cast by Clinton H. Mencellay of Troy, New York.

The original site of the House was on the west side of the road which leads into the old part of Lovell Lake Cemetery on the north side. Near the lot of Marchal E. King, a tablet stands at the original site, with the inscription "1771-1838 - First Meeting House". As a footnote, for over sixty frosts of winter and heats of summer it stood - somewhat the worst for wear, until 1838-39 when it was transplanted to the more congenial soil of Union Village and from time to time improved and beautified and reverently loved by all, its beautiful steeple pointing to the heavens, like so many New Hampshire churches. The church itself was organized officially in 1881.

Attached to the rear (west side) of the church is Drew Chapel. The cornerstone of Drew Chapel was laid in 1954. It was dedicated June 18, 1961 while Ernest Calvert was the minister. It was named in honor of Ernest Drew, the son of Lyle and Harriett Drew. He lost his life in the Pacific while on a mission in World War II.

The next house (7-9) north was built by a Mr. Hall, (possibly Jay Hall), grandfather of Edith Hall Wilson, about 1890. He loved to sit on the bank and smoke his pipe. Then appears the name of B. Nay, whose son John Corson was born here - so it could have been the home of B. Nay marrying a Corson. Thereafter followed Irving Russell, then Emerson and Josie Dame, then W. M. and Maude Nason. Leslie and Teresa Stewart, a son of Dan Stewart lived here and a Fulton owned it for seven years prior to 1956 when Cecil and Barbara Brakeville bought it. They sold to Eugene Jalbert of Wolfeboro in 1974. In 1976 it was sold to Cormier of Rochester.

Harold Drew (1896-1974) built his house (7-10) in 1927. He was the grandson of George Drew, and the son of George (1868-1941) and Malie (1861-1938) Drew, and the brother of Lyle [1891-1961]). He married Charlotte Brown, daughter of Plum Brown, and they had five daughters, Connie Wiggin, Audrey Wiggin, Caroline Pike, Marylin Keating, and Priscilla Fox. Harold liked to wrestle, and once in Pike's Hall, he was matched with Nathan Littlefield and it lasted for two and one half hours before he could pin the wiry little man. He loved baseball and played on local teams, being much in demand as a pitcher. He was also an expert carpenter and a member of Unity Lodge #62 F. & A.M. for over fifty years, where he served the craft so faithfully and well. He died in March 1974. Charlotte remained in the house until her death. Later, Carolyn and Seth Pike moved in.

The last house (7-11) before the interchange with the new Route 16 is the Arthur Junkins house. The names of James Junkins, as well as his half brother Ed (a shoemaker), also appear. This is one of the oldest houses in the village. Edith (Hall) Wilson's grandfather was born here. Later, the house belonged to Annie Hall, then William and Edith Wilson (Edith died in 1970, William in 1972). Then Ronald and Dorothy Kinville bought it in 1972. In 1973, a real estate office occupied part of it.

Across Main Street from the Harold Drew place is a house (7-12) built by George Drew's father. George and son Harold built many fine buildings in this area. George was a good carpenter and his wife Malie a hard worker in the church, and one who was missed by her death. Wilfred and Arlene Nute bought this place in 1954. A gristmill was operated by Charles and Dudley Coleman of Brookfield for years in the adjoining building, which in later years was used as a shop for boat building by Arthur Fall. There was a dam that furnished waterpower for the mill, that went out in the 1936 flood.

In 1965 an automobile with three women in it going south and estimated to be going 70 miles per hour, left the road, struck the roots of a big elm tree, missed the tree, leaped in the air high enough to clear the foundation, slammed squarely into the side of the building, taking it with then as they came to rest with all four wheels resting on the living room floor. The ladies were a bit surprised but not hurt. Arlene Nute was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room and lucky to have an open door at her back as she found herself on the floor in the next room. Wilfred had just left the room and gone to the kitchen, heard the crash, saw his wife on the floor, and pulled her into the kitchen, and then was surprised to see the unwelcome guests in his living room.

North of the Nute's house was a metal building, used as a boat shop many years by Arthur Fall and then Wilfred Nute, about 1950. It was demolished for the new road in 1965-1966. A new shop (7-13) and marine store was built to replace it the same year. The shop also served as a deer weighing station in season, with hunting and fishing licenses available.

During the 1970s, the area between the Grange Hall and the Nutes was bought by the Kinvilles, and partially filled in (it had been a meadow/hay field with an inlet from the mill pond). This is where they moved the building from south of Union in 1979 when the new road went in. Currently, a new building (7-14) sits on the site, and is used as the office of the Superintendent of Schools.

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