The American Dictionary Wars and Joseph Emerson Worcester of Bedford NH (1784-1865)

Signature of Joseph Emerson Worcester from a letter he wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1826.

The first American dictionary was not created by Noah Webster as many believe, but rather by Samuel Johnson who was born in Guilford CT in 1757. His dictionary was the first to include simpler forms of spelling in use today, with words such as arbor, fervor and program. Edward O’Brien of New Haven published Johnson’s work in 1797.

In 1828 Noah Webster published “An American Dictionary of the English Language,” the same year that Joseph Emerson Worcester edited Todd and Chalmers’ Johnson’s English Dictionary and published “Outlines of Scripture Geography.”  In 1830 Joseph Worcester published “Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language.” Continue reading

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New Hampshire Tidbits: Christmas Tree Trivia

Book: Christmas Evergreens, A collection of Poetry for the Holidays, selected and arranged by W.J. Johnston, 1878

Christmas is big business in New Hampshire, at least when it comes to those popular symbols of the season–Christmas trees. In New Hampshire there are nearly 200 tree farms that cater to providing trees, wreaths and other holiday greenery.

Having a live tree in the home for Christmas was in vogue in New Hampshire by at least 1879 when a Concord NH newspaper reported several Christmas trees on the display at the local churches.  In 1898 the Portsmouth NH newspaper reported great numbers of Christmas trees being transported through that city from Maine, on their way to Boston and other places. Continue reading

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Budweiser History in New Hampshire

Photograph of a Budweiser Clydesdale from the Merrimack NH facility in 2013, exhibited at a Merrimack Police Department event. Copyright Janice W. Brown.

Budweiser beer was a popular drink in New Hampshire even before the Anheuser-Busch Company built a brewery in our state. Only three years after this beer’s introduction, the Boston Daily Advertiser newspaper of 23 August 1879 published an advertisement of the sale of Budweiser lager beer, in pint bottles. They claimed health benefits stating, “Physicians are generally recommending Lager Beer…”

Initially called the E. Anheuser Brewing Association in 1860, by 1879 the company was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association to honor Adolphus Busch who was the (then) president. Founded in St. Louis, Missouri, the parent company remains there though they have manufacturing facilities elsewhere–one in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Continue reading

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Plymouth New Hampshire’s Flaming Sword

A snippet from the header of the Prentiss broadside from the Library of Congress.

Some time between 1790 and 1820 a man named Thomas C. Prentiss journeyed from Boston on his way to Grafton, New Hampshire,  stopping at a public house in the town of Plymouth. He ate, drank and participated in lively political discussion. Then he went to sleep. He was awakened during the dark night and had visions, then had more visions the next day as he traveled on the road. He claimed to see an angel with a flaming sword. He even had a ‘broadside‘ printed with details and a quite beautiful engraving of the angel with its fiery blade.  Continue reading

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New Hampshire Tidbits: Fun Things To Do Before 1880

The Cheer of New England Life

Engraving of wild turkeys, from
American Sportsman: Containing Hints to Sportsmen, Notes on Shooting, etc, by Elisha L. Lewis, M.D., and Arnold Burgess, 1885, page 181

For one, I utterly deny that the rural society of New England, taken as a whole, is in a grim, stern or extravagantly repressed condition. I do not know much of Connecticut, but I know a good deal of the rural parts of Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island, and am not ignorant of Maine and New Hampshire. It would be interesting to learn how much your lamenting contributors personally know of the country life of those States. Continue reading

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