New Hampshire’s Last Highwaymen

Advertisement by Huse Karr of his
robbery near Boscawen NH in 1821.

New Hampshire doesn’t seem like a hot-spot for highwaymen, and indeed there have not been many. In the early history of the State, travelers either did not have much coin or they didn’t travel with it.

Because the roads were so poor, boats on the Merrimack or the Connecticut Rivers were popular modes of travel, resulting in a near impossible method for a highwayman to ply his trade. But as the roads improved, as toll roads were built, and as more affluent people began to travel, meeting a highwayman was a possibility, though a rarity.

Highwaymen were not the romantic figures of the pulp fiction novels. They were thugs, thieves, and miscreants. They threatened people’s lives and tried to steal their hard-earned money and possessions. In colonial New England getting caught was risky, for the punishment was death. Continue reading

Clairvoyant and Treasure Hunter of Lebanon New Hampshire: Nellie M. (Lewis) Titus (1864-1957)

Photograph of Mrs. Nellie Titus from
a 1905 Boston Sunday Globe

I am not writing this story to dispute whether clairvoyants exist, nor to argue whether Mrs. Nellie M. (Lewis) Titus of Lebanon New Hampshire was gifted or not with psychic visions. What I do know is that Mrs. Titus was an interesting, eccentric woman.  She was in the public eye several times as she claimed to see what others could not while in a  trance–a drowning victim, a murder scene, and buried treasure. That she led an intriguing life and she spent most of her time in New Hampshire qualifies her for a story here.

Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum mentions Mrs. Titus in her book “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Deathpublished in 2006. She says that William James of the Society for Psychical Research, a Harvard College philosopher and psychologist, reported on Mrs. Titus ‘seership.’ As a result of Mrs. Titus’ search for the body of Bertha Huse in New Hampshire’s Mascoma Lake (as mentioned later),  William James reportedly  concluded that “my own view of the Titus case consequently is that it is a decidedly solid document in favor of the admission of a supernatural faculty of seership.”[See full report in the Proceedings of the American Society For Psychical Research]. Continue reading

The Old Man’s Little Brother: a Rock Profile in Milton, New Hampshire

"The Old Man's Little Brother," located on Branch Hill, Milton NH. Found in book: Barefoot Days and Sundown Songs, by Raymond Hughes, illustrated with photographs by W.R. Spinney, Concord NH 1922.

“The Old Man’s Little Brother,” from Barefoot Days and Sundown Songs, by Raymond Huse, illustrated with photographs by W.R. Spinney, Concord NH 1922. Internet Archive.

New Hampshire’s Old Man may have fallen, but his younger brother still smiles upon the land. He has kept a lower, more reclusive profile. He was never keen on having people stare at him all day.

He sits in a quiet, wooded location on Branch Hill in Milton, NH.  The road used to be a busy stagecoach route, but with the advent of the railroad and the straightening of highways, it is now lonely. The profile is famous only to the local residents who put a photograph of “Sonny Jim,” as THEY call him, on the cover of their 2014 Town Report.

I am told that he is visible from the road — Branch Hill Road — about 100 feet from the turnoff at Applebee Road.  Once on Branch Hill Road, look for the “Land Share” sign, and just beyond it, on the left-hand side, you will see the profile from the road. Continue reading