March 2016: Celebrating Women’s History Month in New Hampshire

Womens history month logoThe March 2016 Women’s History Month Theme (as designated by the National Women’s History Project) is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Their goal is to make women’s historic achievements visible.

My goal is somewhat different. I believe that every woman’s life is interesting and important to history. Views about a person’s historical significance are often shaped by contemporary contexts and are dependent upon the values and interests of individuals or groups considering them.

Today, for example, it would not be thought of as unusual for a women to graduate from college, but even into the late 19th century it was an accomplishment, and not a commonality. In another example, a woman who served as an eclectic physician was, on more than one occasion, left out of a local history that managed to include all the men (because of a bias against both women and the style of medicine). Continue reading

Musician and Music Teacher, Orson Lafayette Mason (1849-1923): Descendant of Capt. Hugh Mason in Cheshire County NH

Orson Lafayette Mason, music teacher of Cheshire County NH

Orson Lafayette Mason, music teacher of Cheshire County NH

Orson Lafayette Mason‘s very interesting face looks out from a scratched tintype photograph that I purchased on a popular auction site. He wears a stylish hat, and his mutton chop sideburns add to the impressive look.

He would have appeared very “dapper” during his time.  This photograph at some point belonged to one of his grand children (based on the “Grandpa Mason” written in pencil at the top).  He had progeny, but it is impossible to determine its origin (as you will see from his genealogy later on.

Orson was born in 1849, just before the Civil War in the still small town of Dublin, New Hampshire. His father was a brick mason which must have kept him busy with all the mill buildings being built in this area.  Continue reading

New Hampshire Tidbits: Milford New Hampshire’s Oddity Party of 1876

Victorian OdditiesIn olden times, Oddities were people with odd or strange looks or mannerisms.  Think–Barnum & Bailey’s side show.  Parties where attendants would dress as ‘oddities’ were being held as late as 1900 when there was a newspaper report in Sheldon Junction, Vermont.  Often prizes were given for the “best costume and toilet.”  One such party was held in New Hampshire.

–MATTERS AT MILFORD [NH] —
The Unitarian Society will give an “Oddity party” and supper on Tuesday evening, Feb. 22nd at Eagle Hall. Let all come dressed as oddities. Supper will be served at 6.30 P.M. There will be dancing in the evening. Admission to the hall 10 cts. Extra charge of 10 cts for supper. Wednesday, February 23, 1876 Farmer’s Cabinet (Amherst, NH) Vol. 74, Issue 33, Page 2

The face of Claremont New Hampshire’s Adaline A. (Johnson) Stowell

Adaline A. (Johnson) Stowell

Adaline A. (Johnson) Stowell of Claremont NH. An antique photograph purchased on an online auction house. The reverse side says Gilchrest Photographer 92 Merrimack St., Lowell, Mass, and has a green Civil War tax stamp.

I am starting to think that someone collected photographs of people who died from tuberculosis in the Claremont NH area.  Among a group that I purchased recently, at an online auction is one of Adaline A. (Johnson) Stowell.  She was eighteen when she married, and only twenty-eight years old when she died. She left a grieving husband, and three young children. She was born in 1842, the daughter of Reuben & Betsey (Fletcher) Johnson, in the quaint town of Claremont, New Hampshire.

She had probably led a small town life, and what little education she acquired was in the small school houses of the town.  She married a local farmer in 1859 and began to have children.  It was just before the Civil War years.  She gave birth to three children before, like many others of the time, she contracted tuberculosis, and perished. Her life was probably difficult, and possibly she already had “consumption,” for she looks older than her 29 years. Continue reading

New Hampshire Tidbit: There is NO President’s Day in February

George Washington Birthday

Today is really a day to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday.  Both the federal and New Hampshire wording of the law calls it Washington’s Birthday. So why are we allowing this amazing day to be ‘watered down’ by calling it something else?

Traditionally (from 1799 to 1971) February 22nd was celebrated as Washington’s birthday, and for good reason–because it actually was his birthday. In Illinois and some other places, Lincoln’s Birthday was also celebrated during that month (on or around February 12th).

Along came the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, a well intended ruling to create more three-day weekends for United States federal workers that moved Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday of February. (Note that Columbus Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day was also moved at that time, then in 1980 Veterans Day returned to its November 11th date). But merchandisers (ie companies wishing to make sales) quickly adopted the “President’s Day” idea to celebrate all presidents, and to promote their wares, and have held onto it tenaciously. Continue reading