They opened the door to greet visitors. They cooked, served and cleaned up after the daily meals. They tidied the rooms and
changed the bed linens. They washed and ironed the family’s clothing. They provided transportation first in horse driven surreys and later in the earliest automobiles in New Hampshire. They moved quietly, and spoke in hushed tones. Although essential to the household, they were not family. They were invisible hands that always entered and left by the back door, not the front. They were maids, cooks, butlers, gardeners, and chauffeurs–hired servants of Manchester’s affluent.
The reason that this topic holds so much meaning for me, is that my grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles were these servants. They saw first-hand and close up how the families they worked for influenced the history of the city. As “invisible” people they were often privy to conversations and behind the scenes events, but were trusted to keep their mouths shut.
Caveat: I don’t remember hearing a single negative comment by any of my family about the people who they worked for. They seemed to felt that their employers treated them well. In fact I recall some objects (sadly long gone) given to my chauffeur grandfather for appreciation of service– a lovely painted urn, an intricately carved hat tree, an old Windsor chair.
==The Campbell, Knox, Carpenter and Slayton Families==
My great-aunt, Helen “Nellie” Ryan, and my grandmother Addie Ryan were both born near the Canadian border in Vermont, but had migrated south with their father and siblings, after their mother
By 1900, while both were in their early twenties, they began working as servants for French Campbell and his family, but also working at a boarding house run by Sarah Knox, wife of Mortimer Knox.
1900 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
French Campbell 26 salesman, cotton yarns / broker cotton yarns
Grace K. Campbell 24
Nancy Campbell 1/12
Ryan Addie W F servant March 1880 20 single VT
Ryan, Nellie servant W F Aug 1878 22 single VT
French Campbell was a commission merchant for the yarn mills and resided at 75 Granite Street in Manchester NH. In 1899 he was also one of the directors of the Hooksett Manufacturing Co [formerly called the Hooksett Mills] along with his partner in Campbell & Bourne, Henry D. Bourne. He came from an affluent family, his father being Zebulon Foster Campbell, one of the veteran druggists of Manchester [store at corner of Elm and Amherst Streets] who retired in 1906 and removed to Greenwich, Washington Co., New York with his son French and family. Zebulon died that same year.
1900 US census Manchester [47 Stark Corp]
Knox Mortimer Feb 1851 NH NH NH Letter Carrier [commissioned job]
Knox Sarah wife W F July 1854 Scotland Boarding House
Knox Guy M. son June 1884 single
Knox, Helen J. daughter W F July 1886 NH
Knox, Sophronia S. mother July 1828 NH
Laramy Esta servant June 1877 22 single
*Ryan Addie servant March 1879 single Vt Ire Ire
*Ryan Nellie W F 1883 17 single Ire Ire Ire
[list of boarders][boarding house]
Mortimer Knox’s mother Sophronia had been running a boarding house before he was born. It was one way for a woman in that era to bring income into her family [my own great-grandmother, Julia (Lyons) Manning did the same]. Once married it appears that Mortimer’s wife Sarah took on the responsibility, while he received a commission and worked as a letter carrier.
In 1902 my grandmother, Addie Ryan, was working as a ‘domestic’ for the household of Edward M. Slayton at 1602 Elm Street [between 1924-1936 this house was razed to become an automotive service and gas station]. Later in the same year she married Charles A. Manning [see his info below] and by 1910 they had moved to 635 Shasta Street where she was busy having 13 children and raising ten to adulthood.
1902 Manchester Directory
Ryan, Addie, domestic at 1602 Elm
1907 Manchester Directory
Slayton, Edward M. pres E.M. Slayton Co. 64 Granite, house 1602 Elm [between 1924-1936 this became a gas/auto sv station]
Edward M. Slayton was born 5 Sep 1851 in Calais, Vermont. He and his wife Jennie E. Hovey had five children. When my grandmother worked for them, the family would have recently returned  to New Hampshire from a European and African ‘tour.’ His company, E.M. Slayton Co. was successful and made him a good income. Located on 64 Granite Street, he sold basic foodstuffs such as butter, eggs, cheese, sugar, etc. It was not a small venture–in 1892 he did $700,000 work of business.
By 1920 my great aunts, Nellie Ryan and Emma (Ryan) Fish were servants (cook and maid) for Aretas B. Carpenter and his wife Alice (Burnham) Carpenter. Nellie Ryan continued to serve as their cook from 1920-1953.
Background: Aretas’ grandfather, Aretas Blood, made his fortune in Manchester through the Manchester Locomotive Works. His parents were Frank P Carpenter & Elenora (Blood) Carpenter, the benefactors of many of the city’s buildings and organizations, especially the Manchester City Library, and the Manchester Historical Association (to name only two). Aretas B. Carpenter was eventually president of the Mechanics Savings Bank in Manchester.
1920 Aretas B. Carpenter 44
Alice Carpenter 41
Elizabeth carpenter 19
Elenora Carpenter 17
Emma Fish 33 servant*
Nellie Ryan 40 cook*
Aretas B. Carpenter
Alice B. Carpenter
Nellie Ryan 45 servant*
Frieda Modis 26
Mary King 21
1934 Manchester Directory
Ryan, Nellie cook r1759 Elm
1940 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
1759 Salmon Street [corner Elm]
Aretas B. Carpenter 65
Alice B. Carpenter 63
Helen Ryan 59 cook Ireland*
Lilian Hasselind 25 maid F W 25 single NH
Mary King maid F W 53 single Ireland
[Frank P. & Elenora (Blood) Carpenter's children]
– Son Aretas Blood Carpenter married Alice Burnham, dau of U.S. State Senator Henry B. Burnham of Manchester, and was treasurer of the Amoskeag Paper Mill. He attended Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School from 1895-1897.
–Daughter, Mary Elizabeth Carpenter, married Charles Bartlett Manning. [see later].
====The Jenks Family====
My great aunt Myrtle (Ryan) and husband George L. Miller also worked as servants in various families–he as chauffeur and later gardener, she as a housemaid.
1917 Manchester City Directory
George L. Miller (Myrtle A.) Chauffeur 1051 Union bds do
[1916 1051 Union, Jenks, Arthur Byron]
[1916 Jenks, Arthur Byron (Marie E.) managing salesman F M. Hoyt Shoe Co. h 1051 Union]
1940 US Census Manchester 10 Mystic Street
George A. Miller A. Head M W 63 Married NY gardener, private Estates
Myrtle Miller wife F W 51 married VT cook Private home
In 1917 George Miller was chauffeur for Arthur Byron Jenks when he resided at 1051 Union Street. In addition to serving as managing salesman for F.M. Hoyt Shoe Company [that building is now residential, "Twin Towers"], Arthur B. Jenks served in the House of Representatives, representing New Hampshire from 1938-1943.
====The Hoyt and Manning Families====
My grandfather, Charles Aloysius Manning was a hostler, driver and chauffeur for most of his life. He was fairly young when he began working with horses, and he loved them his entire life. I was told by my mother that he raced sulkeys and also that briefly he ‘drove’ a surrey for Dr. Hoyt of Manchester. My mother said that my grandfather also drove one of the first automobiles in New Hampshire. It was not until I researched further that I realized exactly what this meant.
The ‘Doctor Hoyt’ my grandfather drove for was none other than Dr. Adrian H. Hoyt. He was born in Magog, Canada, graduated from Dartmouth College, and while a Manchester physician, he started up the Whitney Hoyt Electrical Company, originally located at Forsaith’s building [in Manchester], while he resided at 753 Union Street. In 1894, he removed with his company to Concord, New Hampshire. [Hoyt Electrical Instrument Works
1893 > Manchester Dir > Hoyt Adrian H. Dr. supt and electrician, Whitney Electrical Inst. Co. Forsaith’s building, house 753 Union
What does all of this have to do with driving one of the first automobiles in New Hampshire? Apparently in 1905 “he built his present residence in Penacook, and engaged in business for himself.
He has since erected a shop and employs a number of mechanics in the manufacture of electrical instruments and automobiles, and in doing repair work.” Dr. Hoyt owned the first automobile in New Hampshire and was one of the founders of the New Hampshire Automobile Club in 1900. Sadly, I have no photographs of my grandfather driving one of these early automobiles, but I do have an early photograph of him wearing his “driving coat.”
By 1900 my grandfather was still a ‘hostler’ probably both caring for the stables and driving for his employers. He drove for Fred A. Palmer, of 20 Appleton Street in Manchester, who not only was affiliated with several insurance companies (i.e. Granite State Provident Association and later Prudential Insurance), but who was also delegate to the Republican National Convention from New Hampshire in 1900.
By 1913 he was listed as a ‘chauffeur’ in the Manchester City directories, and no doubt this is about the time that he began driving for Mrs. Robert L. Manning of Manchester. She was Frances Fay Sawyer, daughter of John Curtis & Fannie (Hoyt) Sawyer. Her husband, Robert Livermore Manning was the son of Charles Henry & Frances (Bartlett) Manning, an attorney in the office of Burnham,
Brown, Jones & Warren. He had graduated from Harvard, and also served in the NH legislature. His brother Charles Bartlett Manning was married to Mary Elizabeth Carpenter, sister of Aretas Blood Capenter [see earlier].
Robert and Faye Manning had two children: Priscilla Manning Sullivan (1911-1994) who was philanthropic and donated funds to the Manchester City Library for its “New Hampshire Room” for history research; and Frank Carpenter Manning (1914-1929).
Robert Manning and his brother Charles, along with their brother Francis were killed on 11 February 1924. While on a trip to Lake Tarleton in Grafton NH and they were struck by a train while walking on the railroad tracks. Frances Fay Manning continued to live in the same house at 1690 Elm Street until 1964 when she died.
At that time Harold C. Vanderveer purchased the building. My grandfather Charles A. Manning chauffeured for Mrs. Manning until he retired after 1940. Mrs. Robert Manning died in 1965.
One of the vehicles that my grandfather drove for her, was a LaSalle. Photographs of him are posted here if anyone can identify more models.
====The Carpenters & Manning Family Servants==== Straw Point, Rye, N.H.
I was aware that the Carpenter family of Manchester had a summer home at Straw Point in Rye, New Hampshire, from an old photograph that my mother gave to me. My grandparents (my grandfather Charles wearing his chauffeur suit), great aunt Nellie, uncle Bob and cousin Maurice stare out at me. “Taken on the back stairs of the A.B. Carpenter [Aretas B.] Summer Home at Straw’s Point, Rye, N.H.” she wrote in lovely penmanship beneath. Even on vacation, or perhaps I should say especially while on vacation, the affluent required servants. There was no summer off for them. However, they did get to enjoy the beach and summer past-times on their time off, as some of the photographs here show.
Mrs. Aretas [Alice] Carpenter’s obituary printed in the Portsmouth [N.H.] Herald at her death in 1950 states: “she has spent the summers since 1900 at her home on Straw’s Point, Rye Beach.” The Boston Globe of July 1917 reported, “The family of Aretas Blood Carpenter
of Manchester are at their Summer home at Straw’s Point.”
Sadly a great deal of the “Back Stairs” history has been lost. I personally knew all of my family’s women mentioned in this story. I remember them as lovely white-haired, sweet voiced, gracious ladies who still grew amazing gardens, though they were frail and moved slowly due to age and health. My family on both sides were blessed with “shutterbugs” and story tellers. And so I am lucky enough to share these with you.
For additional reading: