New Hampshire Missing Places: Camp Otter in Pittsburg, Coos County

View of Camp Otter from the water, from an old post card, Pittsburg, NH

View of Camp Otter from the water, from an old post card, Pittsburg, NH

“Every once in a while it is nice to get away . . . from the discontent of big cities and tramp through the mountains, gun in hand, with none but the birds, the trees, the fallen leaves, the lilt of trickling streams and the strange noises that only a forest can produce for companions.

This place is within a stone’s throw of the Canadian border, up beyond the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. Here hills roll in great waves, receding into the blue haze of distance. Down in the valleys are lakes of the purest water. Upon the peaks winter has already donned its white caps of snow. Through the valleys the wind whistles and bites, even through flannel shirt, red undies, two sweaters and hunting coat.”

These words were written in 1939 by the famed Boake Carter, [printed in The Ogden Standard-Examiner] national news commentator and writer, about a trip he made to the  town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire.  He stayed at Camp Otter, and he describes his adventure, with hunting guide, “Long Tom” Currier as follows:

Camp Otter Dining Room“Across the lake, two guides paddle the green canoe, swiftly and powerfully. Round a clump of tall green firs we glide and–a beaver swims away, leaving little bow waves behind him, rippling ever wider. The thin skin of ice cracks as the canoe grinds and comes to rest ashore. Rifles are lifted out. Ammunition is thrust home into the magazines and we separate–bent on stalking some tall and stately buck — or, mayhap, a snarling, spitting, bobcat.

With me goes Long Tom Currier, my guide. A character out of some book, tall as his name would imply, raw boned, 220 pounds and more, with a face seamed by winds and snows and the eyes of an honest man. His steps made me think of the giant my mother used to tell me about who always wore “seven- league boots”. And yet, his footfall is as light as a panther. No lumbering process through the woods. No crackling of twigs. I try a feeble best to measure up to such high example and curse beneath my breath when a dried twig snaps with loud report against my out-stretched arms.

Long Tom stops and points toward the ground. Faintly, after a a great deal of concentration I make out the imprint of cloven hoofs–the track of a deer. The leaves are hardly disturbed. None but a man accustomed to the ways of the forest, the signposts of nature and of animals could have detected their presence. Certainly not a city man, whose instinct is limited only to spying automobiles and how best to evade their onrush. “Fresh,” he whispered. “Fifteen minutes old, maybe.” I nod and try to look wise.”

Photograph of the Currier family of Pittsburg NH: Nettie (Witherell) Currier, Andrew "Long Tom" Currier, and their two daughters, Ruth and Edna.

Photograph of the Currier family of Pittsburg NH, one time owners of Camp Otter: Nettie (Witherell) Currier, Andrew “Long Tom” Currier, and their daughters, Ruth and Edna. From the ‘Cabins at Lopstick’ web site, used with permission.

-HISTORY OF CAMP OTTER-
I cannot tell the story of Camp Otter without including the man who made it famous.  ‘Long Tom’ Currier, born Andrew Harold Currier, was a beloved son of Pittsburg, New Hampshire.  His roots hailed back to at least 1850 when his great-grandfather, Sargent Currier had arrived, and died there.

The town of Pittsburg is small only in population.  It is, in fact, the largest incorporated place in New Hampshire composed of 291.2 square miles (754 km2).  Its land is vast, the lakes are huge, its trees lofty, and the natives often long-lived.  Such is the case with current resident, Lorene “Skip” Young, who was kind enough to speak with me about ‘Long Tom’ Currier and his family. You have to be hardy folk to live in a place where the locals joke that there are only three seasons–June, July and Winter.

The 1920s through the 1940s were years of economic renewal due in many ways to an increase of visitors as a result of the sporting lodges and camps in the north country of New Hampshire.  Pittsburg was the natural place for them to sprout up.  In 1919 the camps, including the largest called Idlewild (on the Second Connecticut Lake), were ‘hotels’ for lumberjacks who worked for the local electric and lumbering companies (this camp would later become a sporting camp).

October 27, 1925 Boston Herald news photos.

October 27, 1925 Boston Herald news photos.

As a history “aside”–in 1925 there was a bit of excitement.  James S. Lamont, president of the bankrupt brokerage firm of G.F. Redmond Co., using the alias Leonard, fled to a camp on the First Connecticut Lake.  After a few months on the run, in October of the same year, he was arrested by Perley J. Phillips, Deputy U.S. Marshal.

Camp Otter was probably first built in 1920 or slightly later, as a boys camp created by three ministers, according to ‘Skip’ Young.  She relates that Tom Currier had first built a small sports camp known as Camp Currier (located where the Cabins at Lopstick are today) [Editor’s note: another source, a recent book “New Hampshire’s Connecticut Lake Region,” by Donna Jordan, credits the building of Camp Otter to the Baldwin family who reportedly built it in the early 1920s.]. About 1926 Tom purchased Camp Otter, located on the First Connecticut Lake. By 1935 Tom, and his wife Nettie, had grown the place into a well-known and liked camp for sportsmen. Each year when the ice melted off the lakes, the regional newspapers would quote Tom and mention his sports camp. During hunting season there was always at least one story of a hunter or fisherman bragging about the catch and how Tom Currier assisted with it, or offered wonderful hospitality. Avid hunters, fishermen, and outdoors-men and their families flocked to Camp Otter.

Old postcard showing close up of some cabins at Camp Otter, Pittsburg NH

Old postcard showing close up of some cabins at Camp Otter, Pittsburg NH

Then, in June of 1944 the newspapers announced that Tom Currier was retiring, due to health reasons. The Boston Herald described Tom thusly: “Everything about Long Tom is big. He stands well over six and a half feet tall, won’t tell you how high in the 200s he weight, lives in the biggest township east of the Mississippi River. . . and there’s not a guide or sport in the north country who won’t agree he’s big-hearted, too. His physical feats are legion. He’s held every title on the sportsman’s show circuit at one time or another from wood chopping and sawing to log rolling, canoe tilting and marksmanship. He dismisses them as “window dressing.” But such stunts as packing a 300-pound bear out of the woods on his back or running down a buck deer on his own two feet are what he counts as solid.”

Tom did take a little time off.  World War II intervened and resulted in a decrease in the local male population.  But Tom would not be idle long, and he moved to Goshen, and was soon working as a superintendent for a private sportsman’s club,  the Blue Mountain Forest Association [i.e., Corbin’s Park] .

In 1944 the newspapers stated that Ernest Bell, owner of the Littleton Construction Company and his wife had purchased Camp Otter and were going to run it.  They did that for a while, at least until 1949 and probably later.  Tragedy struck the camp when the main lodge burned to the ground.  The remaining cabins and land were sold off. The land once known as Camp Otter is now in private hands. The location known to be once part of Camp Otter, namely, Otter Landing, and The Camp, are leased by Lopstick, and are available as vacation rentals, with rebuilt or newly built lodgings.

Oh, and lest I forget. . . my regular readers often see how I end up being cousins to the people I write about.  “Long Tom” Currier is no exception to that rule, as I discovered that he is my 7th cousin, 3x removed through his Currier line.

My thanks to the following people for their assistance in writing this story: Lorene “Skip” Young, a remarkable lady of Pittsburg NH, and Lisa Sivard, former owner of Lopstick.

***Additional Reading***

Historic Sporting Camps of Pittsburg NH – official Pittsburg NH web site

=====GENEALOGY of Andrew “Long Tom” Currier of Pittsburg, NH=====

Richard & Ann Currier of England & Amesbury Massachusetts
Thomas Currier & Mary Osgood [the editor’s 9th great-grandparents through daughter Ann]
Samuel Currier & Dorothy Foote
Henry Currier & Elizabeth Morrill
Sargent Currier & Sarah Ann Fitts
Benjamin Currier & Rebecca Noyes

Sargent Currier, son of Benjamin & Rebecca (Noyes) Currier, b 30 Aug 1778 in Henniker NH, d 1860 Pittsburg NH; carpenter. He m. 9 June 1801 [Oct 1800] in Landaff, Grafton Co. NH to Anna Clements, daughter of William & Alice (Pierce) Clements. She was b. 9 Oct 1781 in Royalton MA, and d. between 1812-1850. In 1800 they lived Lyman NH, In 1850 resided Enfield NH and 1850-1860 in Pittsfield NH.
——————————
1850 US Census > NH > Coos > Pittsburg
Elijah D. Sawyer M 48 NH
Mary Sawyer F 44 NH
Richard R. Sawyer M 25 Canada East
Mary A. Sawyer F 18 NH
Aldulah Sawyer F 21 NH
Timothy G. Sawyer M 15 NH
Eunice J. Sawyer F 13 NH
Phebe M. Sawyer F 9 Canada East
Sargent Currier M 72 NH
——————————
1860 US Census > NH > Coos > Pittsburg
Benj M. Haynes M 28 NH
Mary A. Haynes F 28 NH
John C. Haynes M 2 NH
Sargent Currier M 82 NH
——————————
Children of Sargent & Anna (Clements) Currier:
1. Susanna Currier, b. 1800 NH d. 26 April 1863
2. Benjamin Moss Currier, b. 30 July 1802 in Landaff NH, d. 15 Apr 1881 in Bridgewater, McCook Co. South Dakota; m. Mary Ann Whipple. Had 11 children.
3. Mary Currier, b. 27 Aug 1805 Plymouth NH, d. 20 Nov 1893 Hill NH
4. John Currier, b. 1806 in Lisbon, Grafton Co. NH
5. George Washington Currier, b. 1808
6. +Charles N/W Currier, b abt 1810-1815 Landaff NH
7. Rebecca F. Currier, b. abt 1812 Lisbon NH; m1) — Hall, widowed; m2) 2 May 1866 in Pittsburg NH to Elijah C. Sawyer, son of Jonathan & Mary Sawyer. He was b. abt 1802 Northfield NH.

Charles N. Currier, son of Sargent Currier, b abt 1810 in Landaff NH, d 12 Oct 1897 in Pittsburg NH; m. Susan French. She b. abt 1816 in Chester NH, died after 1860. He was a farmer.
—————————-
1850 US Census > NH > Coos > Pittsburg
Charles Currier M 35 NH Farmer 100
Susan Currier F 34 NH
Mary J. Currier F 12 NH
Daniel P. Currier M 11 NH
Benjamin Currier M 9 NH
Andrew Currier M 4 NH
George Currier M 1 NH
—————————-
Children of Charles & Susan (French) Currier:
1. Mary J. Currier, b. abt 1838 NH
2. Daniel S. Currier, b. abt 1839 Pittsburg, NH; died 30 Nov 1850 in Pittsburg NH, drowned
3. Benjamin Currier, b. abt 1841 NH; d. 30 Nov 1850, age 10 Pittsburg NH, drowned.
4. +Andrew Jackson Currier, b abt 1846 NH
5. George W. Currier, b 12 Dec 1848 Pittsburg NH; d. 12 Oct 1916 in Pittsburg NH; He  m1st) —-; He m2d) 15 October 1879 in Pittsburg NH to Lyda W. Straw, daughter of Willis & Mary D. (Woodbury) Straw. She was b. in abt 1855 in Dalton NH;  He m3d) 3 October 1889 in Pittsburg NH to Caroline Chapell-Towle, daughter of William & Betsey Chapell.  She was b. abt 1832 in England.
6. Lucy A. Currier b abt 1855 Pittsburg NH
7. Hannah H. Currier, b. abt 1858 Pittsburg NH

Andrew Jackson Currier, son of Charles N. & Susan (French) Currier, b. abt 1846 in Pittsburg NH, d 22 Dec 1893 in Pittsburg NH; He m1st) 19 June 1870 to Maron/Moroa/Marion E. Hanes/Hawse. She was b. 1849 in Stewartstown NH, and d. 21 June 1882 in Pittsburg NH. He m2d) 26 June 1885 in Pittsburg NH to Lucy Ann Scott. She was b. abt 1867 in Quebec Canada, and d. 26 Dec 1885 in Pittsburg NH. He m3d) 4 April 1888 in Colebrook NH to Martha A. Schoppe, dau of William & Margaret Schoppe. She b. 17 July 1860 in Beddington, Maine, d. 27 Dec 1938 in Pittsburg NH. She resided in Pittsburg NH and she m2) 12 May 1896 in Pittsburg NH [as Mattie Currier] to Venson Patrick Gray, son of Cornelious & Martha Gray. He was b abt 1860 in E. Clifton, Qubec, Canada, and d. 29 April 1931 in Pittsburg NH. He had married1) 15 June 1890 to Ruth Malvina Cooper.
[Martha Ann Schoppe picture on Ancestry.com]
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Children of Andrew J. & Maron/Marion Hanes:
1. Elisabeth “Lizzie” Currier, b. 26 June 1871 in Pittsburg, Coos Co. NH; she m. 26 Sep 1888 in NH to Eliphalet Hall, son of Hubbard C. & Jane (Goodwin) Hall. He was b. abt 1871 in Lincoln, Penobscot, Maine.
2. Alice M. Currier, b. 16 Feb 1873 in Pittsburg NH and d. 9 Nov 1873 in Pittsburg NH.
Children of Andrew J. & Martha A. (Schoppe) Currier:
3. + Andrew Harold “Harrold” Currier, b. 8 June 1891 Pittsburg NH
4. Ella M. Currier, b 17 June 1893 Pittsburg NH; m. 26 April 1911 in Pittsburg NH to Henry C. Lord, son of H.S. & Mary C. (Wood) Lord. He was b. in Eton PQ.

Andrew Harold Currier, [this story is about him, see photograph above] aka “Long Tom,” son of Andrew J. & Martha A. (Schoppe) Currier, b 8 June 1891 Pittsburg, NH, d 29 March 1966 in Newport, NH; He m1) 14 March 1916 in West Hampton, Northampton MA to Nettie Alice Witherell, dau of George A. & Minerva Roena (Holdridge) Witherell. She b. 2 Aug 1893 in Northampton MA, d. 27 Feb 1996 in Northampton MA. They divorced. She m2) 11 Jan 1933 in Bloomfield VT to Herbert L. Brown, son of Isaac & Delia (Carey) Brown, as his 2nd marriage. He was born in Brookfield MA. Andrew H. Currier m2) 12 Aug 1933 in Keene NH to Muriel Veoan Keach, a school teacher. She was b. 1 Sep 1904 in Clarksville NH In the 1930 US Census he was the proprietor of a sporting camp.
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1920 US Census > NH > Coos > Pittsburg
Andrew H. Currier Head M 28 NH
Nettie A. Currier F 26 MA
Adna M. Currier dau F  NH
Maurice Hebbard Hired man M 15 NH
————-
1930 US Census > NH > Coos > Pittsburg
Andrew H. Currier Head M 38 NH proprietor of sporting camp [Currier Camp on what is called RR1, Stewart Young Road]
Nettie A. Currier wife F 36 NH
Edna R. Currier dau F 10 NH
Ruth M. Currier dau F 8 NH
Harry T. Stevens Hired man M 41 Maine
————
1940 US Census > NH > Coos > Pittsburg
Andrew H. Currier Head M 48 NH
Muriel V. Currier F 35 NH
Garvin M. Keach brother-in-law M 29 NH
————
In 1956 Manning’s Newport Directory
Currier, Andrew H. “Long Tom” supt Blue Mt Forest Association res Goshen
————
Children of Andrew H. & Nettie A. (Witherell) Currier:
1. Guilford Nelson Currier, b. 4 Jan 1917 in Pittsburg NH, d. 6 Jan 1917 in Pittsburg NH.
2. Edna Roena Currier, b. 4 Aug 1919, Pittsburg NH, d. 12 April 1990 Winchester NH; She m1) 24 Aug 1942 in Greenfield MA to Donald Harward Matthews; She m2) 9 June 1973 in Brattleboro VT to Wilder Chamberlin Matthews.
3. Ruth Martha Currier, b. 14 April 1922 Pittsburg NH; d. 27 Dec 2003; m. Guy Bagley. They were artists with a studio in Canaan NH. Children: Mark and Kristin.
4. Raymond Andrew Currier, b. 14 Oct 1924 in Pittsburg NH, d. 7 March 1925 Pittsburg NH.

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7 Responses to New Hampshire Missing Places: Camp Otter in Pittsburg, Coos County

  1. Kristin Rose says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful & comprehensive article! I’m Long Tom Currier’s granddaughter & was born Kristin Bagley (see #3 under children of Andrew H. & Nettie A. Witherell Currier). Skip Young & my mother Ruth Currier Bagley were lifelong friends. Skip and I have stayed in touch since my mother’s passing 12 years ago. As I sit here in my home office today, a framed panoramic photo of Camp Otter hangs above the door beside me. The Curriers had some colorful ancestors including Hannah Emerson Duston, captured from her home in an Abenaki raid on Haverhill MA & later escaped (1697), Hannah Watts Weston, who walked 16 miles carrying a sack of powder & shot to aid in the fight with the British cutter Marghareta in the Harbor at Machias, Maine (1795), and Anton Schoppe, a Hessian mercenary who arrived in America to fight on the British side in the American Revolutionary War and was captured; after the war he married Phoebe Speare of Boston with whom he established a homestead on Englishman Bay, on the north Maine Coast. I have an old wooden chest in which Martha Schoppe, later to marry Andrew Jackson Currier, is said to have transported all her belongings when she moved from the Maine coast to PIttsburg.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Kristin,
      Thank you for commenting here. You have a wonderful heritage, and of course my focus was on your grandparents, though I did include a quick but brief genealogy. No doubt if all your lines were traced there would be additional heroines and heroes. We all have them, if we take the time to delve into our personal pasts. Your grandparents were hardy, adventurous people who surely has passed some of their strengths on to you. You and I are distant cousins, probably through more than one line since the surnames are quite familiar to me. I was really lucky to be able to speak with Skip Young. She seems to be the keeper of the local area history, and is a treasure. At any rate, glad you enjoyed, hoping your holidays are wonderful.
      –Janice Brown

  2. Kristin Rose says:

    Whoops, a correction: The capture by American colonists of the British cutter Margaretta at Machias was an early incident of the American Revolutionary War, and so of course took place in 1775, not 1795. I need to proofread more carefully! Thanks again, Kristin Rose

  3. Mark Ekberg says:

    Does anyone know when the Cross family owned Camp Otter? I have a map of the area specifically from Camp Otter. No date on it. It lists Rt 3 as NH3 and 145 as US3.

    Has the lakes so it is during or after all the dams being built. I see no record of Cross owning it?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Sorry Mark, but in all my conversations with the folks who know the history of Camp Otter, no one mentioned a Cross family to me. What makes you think they did? The Highway would have started to be called NH3 I believe in 1939. The dam was built in 1940.

      Janice

    • julie dykeman says:

      Shine Cross owned Camp Otter

  4. chip Pasquariello says:

    The Cross family owned Camp Otter from the 50’s until approx 1970. Harold , a.k.a. “Shine” and his wife Laura. Wonderful people. He died circa 1968. Soon Camp Otter was sold, the main lodge was destroyed by fire a couple yrs later and it was downhill from there.

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