A White Mountain Ghost Story

The wind whistled mournfully around the hotel as the story was being told, and the

Monument to Lizzie Bourne on Mt. Washington, pre-1900

Monument to Lizzie Bourne on Mt. Washington, pre-1900

hearers involuntarily clustered nearer one another and waited the next gloomy reminiscence. It came from an elderly gentleman who wouldn’t vouch for its truthfulness, but who was ready to swear that the friend who told it to him was an eye-witness and could be relied upon always. Continue reading

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No Goot! Its a New Hampshire Coot!

Illustration of an American Coot, from "Food Habits of the American Coot..." by John C. Jones, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1940

Illustration of an American Coot, from “Food Habits of the American Coot…” by John C. Jones, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1940

The Daily Herald newspaper of Provo Utah printed an interesting blurb on 19 February 1954:
NO GOOT!
BOSCAWEN, N.H. (UP) — James Lee, chief state research biologist, asked to identify a bird shot by a hunter, replied: “It’s a coot, a distinct species It’s tame and, when cooked, tasted like an old rubber boot.”

Not being a bird-watcher, I became curious about exactly what a coot was. I’d heard my grandfather use the term in a different way, i.e.,”Oh, he is just an old coot, don’t pay attention to him!” Continue reading

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New Hampshire: Celebrating the Manchester Public Library’s Centennial

1940-1950 photograph of the Manchester City Library, photo by Pete Caikauskas Sr.

1940-1950 photograph of the Manchester City Library, photo by Pete Caikauskas Sr.


Celebrations are in order for Manchester New Hampshire’s Public Library.
  The current building, originally called the Carpenter Memorial Library, is 100 years old on November 18, 2014 (using the dedication day of November 18, 1914 when 5,000 people assembled for its opening).  However, the library history of Manchester goes much further back, when the area was part of the small village of Derryfield. Although the current library edifice is wonderful even today, an important part of its history would have to include people and events that appear earlier on Manchester’s timeline.

If we count back to the earliest library in old Manchester in 1795, we should now be celebrating 219 years; and if to the opening of the Manchester Athenaeum in 1844, then 170 years. Both of these early libraries were private, owned by groups of Manchester area  people who pooled money and resources with subscription rights to use them.  In addition to the libraries highlighted in this article, there were several other ‘reading rooms,’ in the city, hosted by a variety of groups and mostly closed except to members.

If we count back to the year that Manchester’s library first became public, then September 6, 1854 should be celebrated with an anniversary of 160 years.  The Library is now already mid-way through its year of celebration, with a Library Foundation Gala on September 23rd, and an Open House on October 18th from 5-7 PM.  The Manchester Historic Association has a holiday ornament depicting the library planned for sale.

Continue reading

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Goffstown New Hampshire’s Actor and Writer: Richard Clark Backus (1945-Still Living)

1981 stock photograph of Richard Backus.

1981 stock photograph of Richard Backus.


Richard Clark Backus
, was the son of a physician, born in the small town of Goffstown, New Hampshire. He attended local Goffstown schools, graduating from Goffstown High School in 1963. Wikipedia reports that he attended Harvard University. The “Soap Opera Book: Who’s Who in Daytime Drama (1992) includes this description: Height 5’9-1/2, brown eyes, brown hair; Education: Harvard College B.A.; Interests: theater, writing ; Awards: Critic’s Poll Award, Theatre World Award…” [Editor's Note, a 1992 interviewer erroneously states he is a Yale grad, go figure]. Continue reading

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Boscawen New Hampshire: From Carter’s Tavern to The Kettle & Crane

The Old Homestead Inn, Boscawen NH, formerly Carter's Tavern, aka The Kettle & Crane

In this postcard being called “The Old Homestead Inn,” Boscawen NH, was first known as  Carter’s Tavern, later the The Kettle & Crane

Taverns, inns, and houses of entertainment were an integral part of early colonial America society. They were not only a resting place for travelers, but also an important gathering place where local and national news could be gained and shared. Whether you traveled on foot, horseback, by oxen-drawn cart or later by horse-drawn stagecoach, the sign of an inn was often a welcome sight for the weary or thirsty. Licenses to provide liquor were purchased of the town by the inn owners. Mail packets were left at these places to be picked up at a later date by the intended recipient.

These essential stopping-off places dotted the trails, post roads, toll-roads, turnpikes and highways of New Hampshire.  Stage-coach routes developed, with Boscawen being one of the important locations for those traveling both south-north and west-east within the state.  The advent of the railroad rang the death knoll for many of these small hostels. Continue reading

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