Civic Leader, Manufacturing Supervisor, Town Officer: Anson Alfonso Platts of Merrimack New Hampshire(1845-1940)

Anson A. Platts is shown on the far left. Nathaniel N. Lowell is 2nd from the right. My grandmother, Mattie K. Webster is the middle (of 3 women) in the center of the photo.

Anson Alfonso Platts was a man who seems to have escaped most notice in a town histories. He was a modest man, unassuming, but always ready to help however he could on behalf of his family, his town, his workplace, and the many organizations that he belonged to.

What brought him to my attention was his relationship with my grandmother, Mattie (Kilborn) Webster. She had a difficult early life, her mother died when she was 5 years old, and her father remarried when she was 13, moving from Webster NH to the Litchfield-Merrimack area to be near his new wife’s family.

During this time Mattie’s relationship with her father and step-mother may have been turbulent at time. On the plus side, she was given educational opportunities, and she attended McGaw Normal School, followed by teaching in the local one room schoolhouse upon graduation in 1905. By 1910 Mattie was living with the Platts (Anson and his wife Cynthia) who were now in their 60s but had not had any children. She is listed as their “adopted daughter.” Whether this was a formal arrangement or not, I don’t know.

What I do know is that from that point on, through and following her marriage to my grandfather Clarence Webster, that the Platts and my grandmother Mattie (Kilborn) Webster lived in the same house. In the 1910 census the house is listed as being on Depot Street, and indeed, from my personal memory the “front door” was on Depot Street. The side door went into the kitchen. Today the house address is listed as being at 18 Pleasant Street in the Reeds Ferry section of Merrimack New Hampshire.

After the Platts died, my grandparents lived there their entire lives, my father and his siblings being born there or in the near vicinity, and growing up there. We visited once every few weeks all through my childhood. This is my connection though I never knew either of the Platts, my not having been born during their life times. I have a slightly blurred photograph of a group of people that include Anson A. Platts, my grandmother, Nathaniel N. Lowell (a cousin to both Anson and the Fessenden & Lowell partner), and the rest in the photograph being related to me as cousins.  What surprised me in researching Anson Platts was to discover that my grandmother Mattie was a 7th cousin 2x removed through to Anson through the Platts line. She probably did not realize this.

—-Biographical—-

Anson Platts

Anson Alfonso Platts was a twin, born on July 18, 1845 in Rindge New Hampshire, son of Asa and Fidelia (Emerson) Platts.  The Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, Vol 2, by Ezra Scollay Stearns states: “He was educated in the district schools, and at Appleton Academy, New Ipswich. At the age of twenty-two he left school and worked in a bobbin shop for a while and taught one term of school. In 1877 Mr. Platts removed to Keene, where he resided about a year and then removed to Reeds Ferry, in Merrimack, and entered the employ of Fessenden & Lowell, in whose employ he has been (in 1907) for thirty-one years. Mr. Platts is a very industrious and useful member of the community, and takes part in all important movements for its betterment. He has been a member of the school board in Rindge for two years; treasurer four years; moderator six years. In politics he is a republican. He is a trustee of Wheeler Chapel, and was one of the committee appointed to secure the soldiers’ monument for Merrimack. He is a member of the Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, and of Souhegan Lodge, No 98, Independent Order of Odd Fellows., of which he is treasurer. He married June 29, 1869 at Rindge NH, Cynthia Lawrence, born Dec 9 1847, daughter of William and Lucinda (Lowell) Lawrence of Rindge. She was educated in the common and high school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, and Brookline and Rindge, New Hampshire.”

—His work at Fessenden & Lowell Co.—

Anson A. Platts may have begun working at Fessenden & Lowell Co about 1907 as one article states, however he was already living in the Reeds Ferry section of Merrimack NH by the 1900 census when his occupation was listed as “contractor.”  Perhaps he was building houses for employees of the ever growing cooperage.  His wife, Cynthia, was first cousin to Levi D. Lowell who was partner in that firm.  In several stories Anson is stated as being the supervisor of the “Heading Department” of the Fessenden & Lowell Company.  But what exactly did that job entail?  According to WhiskyCastThe Heading department makes the heads used at each end of a whiskey barrel, while the Staving department cuts the staves that make up the rest of a barrel. While the planing of staves is largely automated, barrel heads are still assembled by hand from planks held together by wooden pins forced together under pressure before being trimmed and toasted.”  So now we know the type of work that he would have overseen.

—His home in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire–

Colorized photograph of the Platts-Webster house (18 Pleasant Street) Merrimack NH taken probably 1930-1940s.  See current view.

Having moved to Merrimack NH about 1878, in the 1880 US census, Anson Platts and his wife Cynthia are shown living in “Reeds Ferry Village” (the northern section of Merrimack) though no street is indicated. In 1900 Anson A. Platts was still living in Reeds Ferry but in that census no particular street is indicated.  According to local records, the house he would live in on Depot Street [now considered to be 18 Pleasant Street] was built in 1900, so perhaps that is where he was living by the time of the census.  By 1910 the census shows a Depot Street address (no number), as do later censuses.  By 1920 my grandparents are shown as heads of the household, not Anson, though he is listed as a boarder with them until his death. The house and property has changed and been updated.  The old barn (my father slept in the upper level which was attached to the house) is now updated and entirely converted so it is an extension of the original building. The yard that was once open, is now fenced in for privacy.  As I recall it from my childhood (1950s-1960s) it was painted a dark mustard yellow, not the white as shown in this photograph.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Baboosic Lake Road, Merrimack NH as it looks today. Photograph property of this blog’s editor.

—Religious Involvements–
Anson’s official biography states he was “a trustee of Wheeler Chapel,” but he was actually  one of the original five trustees of Wheeler chapel and the last one living at the time of his death.  The Nashua [NH] Telegraph newspaper of 21 April 1941 reported: “Reed’s Ferry–Mrs. Mattie Webster has been appointed trustee of Wheeler Chapel in place of the late Anson Platts. Mr. Platts served as trustee for Wheeler Chapel since it was built.”

===Other Interests===
In 1938
, when Anson turned 91, a local newspaper reported on this event, and provided these details: “He is now enjoying good health and is able to do fairly strenuous manual labor…..For 20 years he has been janitor of the IOOF Hall and school district auditor for nearly 30 years. At one time he held the position of town treasurer. During the past years he has cut lumber, tended gardens, and filed saws as sidelines. He amuses himself by reading the daily papers and doing cross word puzzles. He now resides at Clarence Webster’s in Reeds Ferry. His twin brother, Alvon [sic ALMON], died 35 years ago.”

===Incidents and Insights===

In 1938, Anson Platts was awarded the Boston Post Cane from the town of Merrimack NH.

In 1939 a newspaper article touted Anson as being the town’s oldest resident, “who has been confined to the Notre Dame hospital in Manchester for several weeks, as the result of a hit and run accident, resulting in having his leg amputated.”

When he died in 1940, his obituary contained this additional information: “He had made his home for the past 21 years with Mr. and Mrs. Clarence L. Webster. Mr. Platts was a Golden Sheaf member of Thornton grange of which he was chorister for 25 years, a past grand of Souhegan lodge IOOF and member of Puritan Rebekah lodge for a great many years. He was Outside Guardian of the last two organizations up to the time of his accident. “

=====PARTIAL GENEALOGY of AN SON ALFONSO PLATTS=====

Simon Platts/Gawkroger & Phillipa Andrews
Lieut Abel Platts
(c1640-1690) & Lydia Holly (married 1672 in Rowley MA). He was an officer for the expedition to Canada in 1690, dying during this event.
Moses Platts (1673-?) & Hannah Platts?
Capt. Abel Platts (1704-1777) & Mary Varnum
Abel Platts (1738-1819) & Phebe Wetherbee (1740-1841)

Asa Platts, fourth child and second son of Abel and Phebe (Wetherbee) Platts was born in Rindge NH on 28 May 1766 and died 18 March 1848, aged nearly eighty-three. He was a successful farmer, and lived in the old Ninth School District in Rindge NH near the Jaffrey line. He married 29 Jan 1790 to Rebecca Buswell, daughter of Captain John and Rebecca (Demory) Buswell of Rindge NH. She was b. 15 June 1772, and died 20 March 1848, aged nearly seventy-six.
———-
Children of Asa & Rebecca (Buswell) Platts:
1. Rebecca Platts, b 30 Sep 1800 Rindge NH, d. 25 Dec 1824 Rindge NH
2. +Asa Platts, b 27 Feb 1802 Rindge NH [see later]
3. Hosea Platts, b 17 Feb 1804 Rindge NH, d. 23 Jan 1875
4. Harvey Platts, b 1 Nov 1805 Rindge NH, d. 20 Sep 1852 Fitzwilliam NH
5. Almon Platts, b 22 Feb 1808 Rindge NH, d. 7 Oct 1862; m. 29 Dec 1841 to Abby M. Howe
6. Laura Platts b 13 Nov 1809 Rindge NH; d. 17 Nov 1837 Rindge NH; m. Jonathan Pierce
7. John Platts b 8 Nov 1811 Rindge NH; d. 3 Oct 1904 Melrose MA
8. Phebe Platts, b 24 Apr 1814 Rindge NH; d. 20 march 1891 Boston MA; m. John Barrett

Asa Platts, oldest son and second child of Asa and Rebecca (Buswell) Platts was born in Rindge NH 27 Feb 1802 and died 28 Nov 1873, aged nearly seventy-two. Until 1853 he resided upon a farm near West Rindgek, and then moved to Rindge Center, where he operated a saw mill for many years. He married 1st) 2 August 1832 Frances Jones, daughter of Asa and Mary (Martin) Jones of Rindge. She was born 29 Feb 1800 and died April 20, 1836, aged thirty six. He married 2d) Fidelia Emerson Pratt, widow of Moses S. Pratt, and daughter of Ebenezer and Rhoda (Symonds) Emerson of Reading, MA.
————
Child of Moses & Fidelia (Emerson) Pratt:
1. Sivona F. Pratt, who m. John Mixer, res. Arlington MA.
Children of Asa & Fidelia (Emerson) Platts:
2. Maria F. Platts, born 13 May 1839 Rindge NH; d. 16 March 1871; m. James Wallace English
3. Asa Anson Platts, born 20 Sep 1841, d. 18 March 1848 Rindge NH
4. Almon Alonzo Platts (twin), b 18 July 1845 Rindge NH; d. 10 Feb 1902 Rindge NH. 1872 graduate of Dartmouth College; 1873 graduate of Harvard University. Civil Engineer in Stoneham MA by 1874. Single in 1880 US census living in Stoneham MA. Also Principal of East Grammar School, Provincetown MA; school teacher in Rindge NH;
5. +Anson Alfonzo Platts (twin), b 18 July 1845 Rindge NH. He m. 29 June 1869 at Rindge NH to Cynthia Lawrence, dau of William & Lucinda (Lowell) Lawrence. She was b 9 Dec 1847 and d. 3 Oct 1919 in Nashua NH. No children. [THIS STORY IS ABOUT HIM, SEE ABOVE].
6. Martin W. Platts, born 13 July 1849 and d. 26 Aug 1849 Rindge NH
7. Lyman Whiting Platts, b 11 Sep 1852 Rindge NH, d. 26 April 1904 Boston MA. He m. 13 Feb 1879 in Troy NH to Sarah Elvira Carpenter.

NOTE: “Some” information in the above Platt genealogy obtained verbatim fro the Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, by Ezra Scolay Stearns, Vol 2, p. 689, with additional dates, places, spouses, etc added by this blog editor through research.

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6 Responses to Civic Leader, Manufacturing Supervisor, Town Officer: Anson Alfonso Platts of Merrimack New Hampshire(1845-1940)

  1. George A Chapman says:

    I have a number of various town reports, selectmen reports, auditing committee reports from Rindge from the second half of the 19th century startiung with one from 1850. The Platts name appears in various places incuding of course the taxes paid.

  2. Pingback: Fessenden & Lowell Company: a 19th-20th Century Cooperage in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

  3. Amy says:

    Do you know more about why your grandmother ended up with the Platts? Why that couple? They must have been very kind and generous people.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Amy, I have no idea why she ended up there. I do know she was a school teacher, and that she attended a high school-teaching school that was less than a block away. One conjecture is that she boarded at the Platts to be near the schools, as her father and step-mother would have been living in Litchfield across the river, and would have needed to ferry across twice a day. Actually that she lived there was probably a big reason that she got to know my grandfather, who worked at the Reeds Ferry Railroad station that was just down the road from the Platts House. Questions like this make me wish that I had known them better, I was only 13 when they died, and what 13-year-old asks such questions 🙂

      • Amy says:

        I know that feeling. But I was 23 when my grandmother died, and how I wish I had asked her more questions. Even after my father died a year and a half ago, I soon found I had questions I wished I’d asked him.

  4. Pingback: Cooper and Businessman of Reeds Ferry NH: Levi Franklin Lowell (1839-1916) | Cow Hampshire

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