‘Woman Edison” Inventor: Margaret E. Knight of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts

1912 Photograph of Margaret E. Knight, inventor, in her workshop. From a Boston MA newspaper. Colorized by the blog editor. Watermarked.

When you go grocery shopping, you should be thankful to Margaret E. Knight. One of her many inventions, and possibly her most famous one, was a paper-feeding machine for “making and folding square-bottom paper bags.”

Prior to this time paper bags were envelope-style, that could not hold as much and could easily tip over. The court ruled in a lawsuit against a man who tried to patent her idea first (Knight won), noting that she had conceived the idea as early as February 1867, and she had all the drawings and diagrams to prove it. She was awarded the patent on this machine on 15 November 1870. This same year she started the Eastern Paper Bag Company. Continue reading

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December 7: National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

USS Arizona following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

2,403 United States citizens were killed in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor. This incident heralded the beginning of the U.S. entering WWII when war was declared on Japan the following day.

In 1994 the United States Congress designated today as one of remembrance for the lives lost.  Several New Hampshire men lost their lives in that attack. I have written articles about several of them. Continue reading

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New Hampshire Missing Places: Mansion House in Merrimack

Photograph: front view of Mansion House, Merrimack NH circa 1970. Courtesy of Virginia Penrod. Used with permission. Colorized.

A building is more than a structure or a location–it is also a repository of stories about the people and events connected with it. My cousin, Ginny Penrod, had an opportunity to photograph the so-called “Mansion House” of Merrimack NH before it was demolished, which she shared with me.

We talked about some of the stories connected with it, and she was curious about which stories and rumors were true. Were there lost loves involved?  Did the place have a notorious reputation? (The answer to both those questions appear to be no). She shared with me some photographs she’d taken of both the interior and exterior in the days when she was working as a real estate salesperson. The house was nothing like you would find anywhere else in town.  Even the attic floors were made of cedar, she mused. I admit, I was intrigued too. Continue reading

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Five Ways Genealogists Survive a Pandemic Thanksgiving

Photograph of a “rafter” or flock of New Hampshire turkeys, copyright Tina Penrod- Bates. Used with permission.

Genealogists (family history researchers) are a different breed. They live and breathe for the next tidbit of information that others find trivial. They sigh and gush over dusty documents and faded photographs. They love a good story, especially if the family has been trying to hide something.

Holidays are seen in an entirely different context by these data and scrapbook collecting folks. And so it is not a surprise that they might celebrate Thanksgiving slightly differently. We should all take lessons. Continue reading

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One Hundred Years Ago: The Art of Driving a Motorcycle

B.H. Webster with his Indian motorcycle, “Old Reliable” circa 1930. Photo property of the blog editor.  Colorized.

Even before World War I the motorcycle was used by both sides during the Mexican War. General Pershing was a big fan of the vehicle, and they soon became a substitute for horses during WWI. The Indian and the Harley Davidson brands were the most popular.

My father (who was born only a few years before WWI began) was an Indian motorcycle aficionado, and called his model “Old Reliable.”  He died on 7 November 1981, and this article is dedicated to him, for I know he would have laughed aloud at the story that now follows. Continue reading

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