The following stories are taken from a paper squirrelled away in the archives of the New Market Historical Society. They were written in 1982 by Suzanne Forrest’s Freshman English Class of Newmarket High School. Mrs. Sylvia Getchell, the High School librarian at the time, saw the value in these students reports as they pertain to Newmarket’s history. Many of the people written about here in 1982 are no longer with us. We are thankful that these students were able to capture a quick glance into the the lives and times of their subjects. We share their stories. — John Carmichael, New Market Historical Society President, 2015.
“The Quest”, (NHS# 14.10.11)
1982 written by members of the Freshman Class, Newmarket High School.
A Note from the Editor in Chief
This publication is a project in my freshman English class. The main idea behind it is to teach the process involved in writing a newspaper. The students did several drafts of each article and spent many days revising and editing the content of each other’s work. They took their own pictures, developed their own film, learned interview techniques, wrote business letters and kept the books on all transactions. The last step was to use the computer. The articles were typed in and edited. The students were able to see the use of the computer in a non-mathematical setting and gain an appreciation of how quickly revisions could be made. In essence, they learned how to conduct a business (as the publication costs were supported by ads), and they learned how to write better, more concise articles, reinforcing and using all the basic knowledge they acquired over the years.
There are some articles in here that were real eye-openers for me, like “The Mills: Woven Into Newmarket History”, and “The Tiger Back in Action: A Firefighting Saga”. Perhaps our readers will appreciate hearing about those times again to do a little of their own reminiscing. Our intent was to capture a bit of the heart and soul of Newmarket, and I think these students have done well to give you a glimpse of that inner spirit that is still an important part of Newmarket’s personality. One example of this, is “Old Newmarket: A Bygone Era”. It certainly helped me to appreciate what’s behind the scenes that contribute to what Newmarket is today.
One of the articles, “The Thoughts of Students of ‘43”, had an editorial in it, which was a telling contrast to today’s student.
At a time when there’s great dispute over the draft, here is a patriotic cry of love for a country young people wanted to defend. Perhaps this editorial by Mr. Radwan will serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come. We certainly couldn’t have made it without those seniors of the graduating class of 1943 and those who came before and after them.
The humorous account of parents who pulled their own pranks as kids, should remind many people of their own childhood, in “Hidden Stories Revealed”, In “A Business: To Be or Not to Be”, we see the struggle of any business to stay alive, making this article a true success story. One of my students created her own time machine and took the person interviewed back to her childhood days, in “Reflections of 1924”. Drudging through a wet and windy graveyard was the task of another who helps you appreciate some of our ancient ancestors, in “Where No Farewell Tear is Shed”. “Project Gundalow” may reawaken your interest in what Strawbery Banke has to offer all of us, just moments away in Portsmouth. Another explored the business of Newmarket residents, who have been an active part of this community for years, in “Fishy Facts: The Hole Truth”. New Village and its original role in the community is covered nicely in “The Other Side of Park Hill”. A Newmarket High School teacher recalls his life at Newmarket High School in “Reading, Writing and Remembering”. Finally, we chugged our way through Newmarket, made a few milk stops and landed at New Village Grocery, while discovering new aspects of the town’s history, in “Railroading and the Transformation of a Milk Shed”.
All the articles have their merit in recalling sweet or bitter memories and your own memories may come alive as you read. We hope to have supplied a little something for everyone, so that our readers will be able to say: those were the days we cherish as “golden moments of Newmarket’s history”.
Have you ever heard of smoking cornsilk? Did you ever wonder what it would be like to wake up fifty years ago? If you read on, you’ll find out about Toni Malek’s school day in Newmarket.
It is November 19, 1924, and Toni Malek, age nine, makes a groaning sound as she is awakened by the orangish glow of the morning sun. It is very chilly and she, along with her seven brothers and sisters, gets up to start a fire in the stove and do other morning chores. Then the family sits down to have a breakfast of flapjacks made from cornmeal and milk.
Her parents look at the clock and suggest the children hurry off to school. Toni grabs her books and coat and rushes out the door.
Usually she walks with her brothers and sisters from Durham to Newmarket, which is a distance of a mile and a half. Today, however, a bread truck picks them up and brings them to school. “They are good,” Toni states, “because they put us in the back of the truck so we don’t have to walk the rest of the way to school.”
Toni then enters through the doors of St. Mary’s Parochial School, to start her morning class. In the parochial school, there are five grades in one classroom„ and they are all taught by Sister St. Barbara. Each class consists of anywhere between eight and twelve students, which makes up a classroom of about forty children.
Toni’s first subject is arithmetic. There are no bells to tell you when to switch classes. Instead, when the teacher is done teaching one subject she goes on to the next. The next subject is reading and writing. “My favorite subject is writing,” Toni states with emotion, “because I always receive A+’s!”. Memorization is a common lesson in reading.
Next comes history, which only the fourth and fifth graders are allowed to learn. Today Toni learns about the country of Egypt.
Suddenly, a student begins to talk out loud and disturbs the class. He is instantly punished in front of the whole class by being told to stand in the corner. (The students consider him lucky because he wasn’t slapped on the knuckles with a ruler.)
After school, Toni walks home, only to do some more chores. Even though she doesn’t always like doing them, she knows they must be done without complaining. She is in charge of milking the cow. When this is done, she sometimes listens to the radio while knitting or crocheting until supper is served.
But today is different. Toni; her sister, Tillie; her brother, Eddie; and a few others go into the barn to smoke because they want to be “in” like the kids at school, but they don’t have the money to buy cigarettes so they put cornsilk in a tissue and twist it tightly. Then they put a match to it. Smoking this is difficult and they all cough and choke. This made them, after a short period of time, throw their homemade cigarettes in a nearby pail of water. Toni, feeling “older” today, decides she is going to drive the family tractor. She hops on and starts it up in first gear. All of a sudden the tractor jumps into third gear and she panics.
“Help!” she cries, “I can’t control this thing!” Before anyone has a chance to help her, the tractor goes over a stone wall and turns off. Toni, fortunately is left unscarred.
Another log is thrown on the fire and the cold milk from the summer kitchen is brought to the table. The family then says grace and begins to eat. Bread is purchased at a nearby store for ten cents a loaf, and meat is only thirty-nine cents a pound.
When supper is completed and the table cleared, Toni and her brothers and sisters hang a gas lantern on the wall so that they can do their homework around the dining room table. From the end of supper until nine o’clock homework must be done, the dreaded part of Toni’s day. At nine, Toni goes out to the outdoor shed which contains a toilet. She brushes her teeth in the wash basin and goes to bed. This was the ending of an unusual day, and what made this day so unique was the fact that there would never be another November 19, 1924.
What would it be like to sit in a bobhouse in the middle of the winter and fish through a hole in the ice? To find out, I interviewed Ruth and Warren Sawyer and their son, Junior. Mrs. Sawyer has lived in Newmarket since 1915.
The Sawyers own a fishing business. They cater to the smelt fishermen during the ice season. They sell bait, tackle, and all sizes of Swedish pimples, which are put on the hook when the fish aren’t biting too well.
They also sell bobbers, skimmers and mantels, plus generators for lanterns. Besides selling fishing gear, they also rent bob houses, (sometimes called shanties) and let people go through their land to put them up on the ice. They charge one dollar to put them on for you and seventy-live cents to park all day. When they first started they didn’t charge anything, but then it went up to fifty cents and then to seventy-five because the property had to be maintained and insurance had to be purchased.
They started their business twenty-nine years ago to see if it would work out, and it did. The first year they had one bob house on the ice, the second year they had four and it has increased in the past years up to two hundred.
They buy their bait from F.H. Hammond, and have always done so. They sell two kinds of bait: clam or sea worms and live minnows. Clam or seaworms are dug up in salt water on the flats in Maine. Once you catch the worms, you must keep them in cool seaweed. Live minnows (tomcods) are tiny fish that are used to catch pickeral in fresh water ponds, and those are kept in cool, circulated water. To help them stay alive and active, all you have to do is keep replenishing the water in the bait bucket.
There is a procedure for smelt fishing. “After the ice forms you make your hole, and you can fish outside in the open or you can fish in a bob house, using jigpoles, (or jigs, which are any of several fishing devices that are jerked up and down or drawn through the water). If you are in the bob house, you make a trench the length of the bob house and position yourself depending on the tidal conditions. Outside in the open you can just use a round hole,” Mr. Sawyer informed me.
Mr. Sawyer buys poles and adds the line, the sinkers and the hooks. He sells two kinds of poles: a twenty-two inch pole used inside the bob house, and a fourteen inch pole used mostly by children.
Junior is the one in charge of the bob houses; he also helps elderly people put the bob houses on the ice, uses his power auger to cut holes in the ice, and plows the roads and keeps them open for the people to get through.
The house they live in was first the old “Shackford Place”. It was purchased by Mrs. Sawyer’s great grandfather, John Watson. Their son, Junior, is the fifth generation to live in the house.
Have you looked at your yearbook lately? Do you wonder what happened to some of your classmates? Well, I interviewed Roy Kent and he talked about what it was like in his senior year at Newmarket High School.
Roy Kent was a graduate of the class of ‘43. Roy attended classes at industrial school his senior year at the Mole and Hutton Plant in Portsmouth. He and some of his classmates would car pool there every day after school. They learned about sheet metal and welding. This helped Roy to get a job at the Navy Yard after he graduated. Presently, he is the funeral director for the town of Newmarket. Roy’s hobby is recording all the graveyards in Newmarket; the last count was forty-two. (See article, “Where No Farewell Tear is Shed”.) He is very interested in the history of Newmarket.
The thoughts of Roy and some of his classmates during World War II were interesting. Roy felt that the class of ‘43 was very patriotic and all for the war. After all, our country had been attacked. He thought the atomic bomb was a great achievement because it saved a lot of American lives. (Roy served with the US Navy in WW II)
The thoughts of a freshman towards the war and the seniors were expressed by Mrs.Otash who was a freshman in 41. Her freshman class was the largest and Mrs. Otash thought this has great. She knew Roy Kent and thought he was “a nice young man, always with a carrot in his mouth”.
The freshman class of 1943 wasn’t very patriotic compared to the seniors, according to Mrs. Otash. “We didn’t take the war too seriously,” she said. However, the senior class of ‘43 wrote many poems and thoughts about the war, one of which has been reproduced in this issue. These thoughts tell how the seniors really felt.
The following is an editorial taken from THE LAMPREY, the 1943 Newmarket High School yearbook:
Up to this time the class of 1943 has contributed ten of its members to the armed forces with others thinking of enlistment. With their high school education nearly completed their minds are set upon one objective—winning the war. Their education has fitted them with the knowledge necessary for waging modern warfare. At present, they are serving Uncle Sam as soldiers, sailors, and marines. When this war is over we can say that this year’s graduating class had a hand in it.
In addition to this we find the Senior boys and girls taking defense courses to prepare themselves for war jobs after completion of the school year. Many of them are learning to be welders, sheet-metal workers, and machine operators. This is going to help solve the manpower shortage of skilled workers in defense industries and will relieve those who are badly needed at the fighting fronts.
The boys of the Senior Class also are striving to be physically fit so that when entering the various branches of the service they may be taught quickly the fundamentals of their coming task. Under Headmaster McCaffrey, their instructor, the Senior and Junior boys take part in a course which is known as physical education. In the forty-minute period allotted them for this activity they go to the auditorium and take part in vigorous exercises and calisthenics. Here they exercise every muscle of the body, and when the bell rings, they return to their classroom with aching joints. This will result, not only in strong healthy bodies, but also in minds quick to respond to every command.
This course also offers a little knowledge of jujitsu training. This training will give them an advantage in hand-to-hand combat and will help develop the muscles of the whole body.
At present, approximately one-fifth of the town’s inhabitants are now in the service fighting for Uncle Sam, so that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” may forever continue without the interference of tyrants who seek to rule the world.
Carmel Radwan ( Carmel served in the US Navy during WW II)
We the 18 and 19 Year Olds by LIONEL ROUSSEAU, ‘43. (Lionel was with the 5th Marine Division during the War)
We senior boys are the 18 and 19 year olds,
We’re strong—rough—and we’re bold.
In June when senior girls get their certificates,
We’ll be giving everything we’ve got to beat the Japs.
When we’ve had our year’s training
And with guns on our shoulders we come marching,
Then beware Adolf Hitler of your crown,
For we, the 18 and 19 year olds, are BERLIN bound.
From different country’s scenes
You’ll find us in every branch——-the Army, Navy, or Marines.
We’ll be there to settle with the yellow Japs,
Who hit us behind our backs.
We won’t be fighting to gain medals or to be heroes,
We’ll be fighting to bring down Jap Zeroes.
Aside from that we’ll all be fighting for one cause alone,
And that is to come back to our folks, sweethearts, and friends—HOME.
Have you ever heard of the Redmen? No? Well, neither had I until I interviewed my grandmother for a project I was working on in English. Read on and find out about the Redmen and other interesting facts about Newmarket.
(photo: the Redman Club, from the Historical Society archive)
When I interviewed Norma Szabo, she told me many things. There was a fraternity called the Redmen. According to an encyclopedia, “The improved order of Redmen was established in 1834”. They were a group who claimed to be descendents of the Sons of Liberty which was started in 1765. The Redmen were divided into two parts: one part was called the Pocahontas, who were very important, well-known women. The other part was called the Redmen, which consisted of men. The Redmen went through a lot of Indian rituals. They also marched in parades and met in the building that burned down where the Legion now stands.
Back in the 1920’s you stayed in your part of town. Norma Szabo lived on Prescott Street and she didn’t see New Village until she was an adult.
The kids used to have fun that didn’t bother anyone. “We used to slide down Church Street in the winter, and back then there were only two policemen and they patrolled in their own cars.
”In the winter we used to jump ‘tickloes’ during high tide,” Mrs.Szabo continued. “Tickloes are pieces of ice which float down the river when the water rises on salt water. You only did this until your father caught you, then you got off quick!”
There were trains that took you where you wanted to go. “We used to take a train to Exeter, then get on a trolley to the beach.”
The people in town used to sell fireworks on the Fourth of July in the building beside the drugstore. The people used to be able to buy everything they needed in the store in Newmarket. Most people who lived in Newmarket, worked there too. “So, when you went to work, you worked with all your friends,” Mrs. Szabo explained. The people used to party together and there were carnivals that came to town. Then the union came; there were fights and Newmarket started going downhill.
After Mrs. Szabo graduated from school, she had three children. After the third one, she started working at Kingston Warren. After working thirty-one years, she retired in 1979 and now attends Senior Citizen meetings. In her spare time she likes baking for all her children and grandchildren, but mostly she is a living record of a vivid Newmarket past.
Irene Levesque Vidler remembers when the store she owns now, New Village Grocery, was once a milk shed beside the railroad tracks. The milk shed was not for cows, but rather it was a shed where the train dropped off milk for the people. This fact made me curious about railroads, so I did a little research.
Railway construction of the first New England railroad was the Boston and Lowell, which was built in 1830 and opened fdr traffic in June 1835. Also in June 1835, the Boston and Providence began traveling between those two towns.
The operating group of employees who worked for the railroad was divided into two parts: yard employees and those on trains. Yard employees, about 40% of the operating group, were paid on an hourly or daily basis. Eight hours was a day’s work and overtime was paid for at the rate of 150% of the basic rate. (See chart.)
Road employees were paid for the miles run. If it took longer than a certain time to run the miles paid for, they would get overti me, along with their regular pay for the mileage made.
Mileage limits changed on different railroads. Most of the time they were 4,800 miles per month for regular engineers and 3,800 miles per month for engineers and firemen in freight service. Where mileage limits applied to trainmen, the maximum limit ran from about 5,500 miles to 6,600 miles per month for passenger trainmen, and 3,500 miles to 4,500 miles per month for freight trainmen.
Besides transporting freight and passengers, railroads also transported baggage, mail and milk. In passenger trains, they provided meal service for the passengers.
The coming of this railroad was an important event in the history of the town of Newmarket. The rails were brought from England to Boston, then transferred to Newmarket. The rails were laid each day, slowly coming nearer to the town. On July 28, 1841, the first passenger train came down the line, stopping where the Exeter Street crossing is now, and the first railroad station was built nearby. Shortly thereafter, milk was being delivered at the milk shed which is now the New Village Grocery.
Since that time, many changes have taken place. Mrs. Vidler bought the store after it had been moved from its original spot and there she began her business at the corner of Elm and Beech Street. When she bought the store twelve years ago, the building was well over 100 years old.
“I had no problems getting started. Whatever the people wanted, I stocked,” Mrs. Vidler explained. She went on to say that she had two children in college at the time, Dorothy and Marty, and had to run the store herself for three years.
When asked what her future plans are she said,-I’m planning on selling the store. I hope whoever buys it, enlarges it some. After I sell my store and property, I’m planning on retiring and buying a trailer to put in the back lot. I’m also going to travel to the places I haven’t been to yet.”
I think Mrs. Vidler certainly deserves a break after all those years; and who knows, maybe the railroad passenger service will also return, bringing back with it a little bit of Newmarket history. *
* Irene Levesque Vidler, served as a Wave with the US Navy in WW II
Did you ever wonder if you were standing on the grave of the oldest survivor of the Revolutionary War while visiting in a cemetery? In an interview with Mr. Roy Kent of Newmarket, I found out where a Revolutionary War veteran was buried and more.
Mr. Kent, a native of Newmarket, wrote up a diagram of all the private graveyards of our town. It shows who is buried there and the location of the graveyard. Mr. Kent calls his diagram, “Private Graveyards of Newmarket”, and it took a lengthy three years to complete. Mr. Kent kept asking people to see if they knew of any graveyards that he didn’t already have. Just when he thought he had them all, another one would pop up. Altogether, there are forty-two graveyards in Newmarket. There are actually more, but they were grown over, headstones broken and discarded, and others were plowed under.
Some of the more common sites are the Cheswell Cemetery on Main Street; the Cram Cemetery off North Main Street, near the Durham line on Rt. 108; and the Old Town Cemetery, north of Great Hill Terrace. There is believed to be an Indian burial ground, which stood on the west bank of the Lamprey River, somewhat above the first falls. There are also many smaller farm cemeteries which are hoped to be preserved.
Did you ever wonder what it’s like to walk through a graveyard on a wet, windy, dreary Sunday afternoon? If you have ever done just that, or have a vivid imagination, you can imagine me walking through a cemetery taking pictures of certain tombstones that were interesting.
One of the most different graveyards because it was so small, was the Cram graveyard. It is lodged between the back of an apartment building and a group of trees.
The Old Town Cemetery was especially pretty. Some of the nicest sayings were written on the tombstones. Two I found particularly interesting were:
”Yet we hope to greet thee again, Where no farewell tear is shed.” (1889. Hattie E.Chapman).
“Her mind was calm and all serene: No terror in her looks were seen;
Her Savior’s smile dispelled the gloom and walked her passage to the tomb”—. (1846, Elizabeth J.Thompson, twenty years old.)
Out of the three, the nicest was the Cheswell Cemetery, off Main Street. It has an iron gate with the name “Cheswell” in an arch on it. A veteran of the Revolutionary War is buried there.
Calvary and Riverside cemeteries contain many old, small graves because some were moved there from even smaller cemeteries. There are also some small family burial grounds which now have no markers left but which are referred to in old deeds.
To find an old graveyard, Mr. Kent says you could go down most any road of your choice and you will end up with a graveyard somewhere along the line. Some people must wonder what type of history one might learn from studying old graveyards. Well, a lot of deaths were not recorded in Newmarket because they were before death certificates and before any vital statistics existed in the town hall. The headstones were the only record. By listing the private graveyards, anyone who is looking for their roots or someone they just want to find now has a source where they can look. The State Historical Society, the New Market Historial Society and the town library have a copy where one might want to look.
It was nearing the end of our interview, so before we parted company, Mr. Kent said “One thing I’d like to see is all the old graveyards fixed up: headstones up-righted, weeds pulled out, grass kept cut, but so far I have not found anyone interested in doing it”.
In my opinion, I would find it very interesting to help clean up these graveyards, how about you?
** Roy Kent was a WWII veteran who served in the US Navy. His Newmarket Cemetery Book can be located in the Families and Genealogy section of this website).
Have your parents ever told you not to do something because you’d get in trouble for it, but you went ahead and did it anyway? I’m sure that you will be interested to hear what one resident of Newmarket (Mr. X) had to say about what he and his friends did as young boys growing up. Mr. X certainly had a lot to tell (or should we say-¬confess—he wishes to remain anonymous for self-preservation).
”We weren’t bad kids or anything like that, but like all kids we loved to get into mischief.” Well, it just so happens that back then, Halloween was a night for devilry just as it is today. Because of this Mr. X and about eight other boys bought some eggs and headed for the abandoned apartments above the Star Theatre (where the post office is today). The Chief of Police was aware of the trouble he could encounter that night and he saw those boys go inside. Little did he know that he was the target! When the Chief began walking across the street to the town hall for a better vantage point, Mr. X and the other eight boys let the eggs go in a flurry that didn’t ever come close to its target, but the chief still chased after them.
He outsmart the boys by going to the back of the building and he seized the last two boys who were running out the back door. Mr. X was not one of them, and this story might have had a happy ending, but the two confessed to who the others were and they all received in-school punishments. “We sure were lucky our parents didn’t find out about that night,” laughed Mr. X.
Another act that everybody enjoyed was climbing up the water tank and crawling through a window of the weave shed and roller-skating inside. “It was a really nice place to roller-skate in there when they moved all the looms and machinery out during the Depression,” Mr. X stated.
The most dangerous stunt (or the most stupid one) was having someone place a five cent Moxie bottle on the ball which is on top of the water tower, and then have people climb up to get it. He then went on to say, “I never tried to do it. I was too afraid to, but my friends did it. I guess it just goes to show you what kids back then would do for a five cent Moxie bottle.”
(photo: old water tower by the Weave Shed, Historical Society Archive)
There was one very interesting point Mr. X made that I felt was very true. He stated, “Back in our days kids would pull pranks and get into mischief just for fun. There wasn’t as much vandalism back ¬then as there is now.”
The only thing Mr. X said they ever really did that was bad was steal apples off the trees in front of Mr. Carpenter’s house where the Longa residence now sits on Main Street.
Asked again if he and his friends really ever did anything destructive, Mr. X finally admitted: “Well, I can remember one time—-and boy, did we ever get in trouble!” As he told it, it was one day at noontime when they were home from school for lunch and he went outside to call his brothers in. When he got there, he found the two boys dropping huge rocks down onto some empty molasses and vinegar barrels from the IGA store, (for they lived in an apartment above it). The rocks would smash the lids with a crash. “They were having so much fun that I had to join them, so naturally we all got in trouble. The man who owned the IGA store was furious.” They all spent the rest of the night praying that their mother wouldn’t tell their father, but she did.
This article should be a lesson that when parents tell their kids not to do something that is going to get them into trouble, it really means. “Don’t do all the terrible things that I did as a kid!”
Did you realize that shipping boats actually came into Great Bay carrying people, stones, hay and cotton? That fact and much more was discussed in an interview with Dr. L. Forbes Getchell of Newmarket.
These shipping boats were called gundalows. In 1659, John Cutt, a wealthy merchant in New Hampshire owned a gundalow that was used to move lumber. They were also used earlier at Fort William and Mary in New Castle, New Hampshire.
Mr. Getchell then briefly explained that Fort William and Mary was used in several wars including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I. What do gundalows have to do with this fort, you ask? Well, the answer is quite simple. Gundalows were used to bring stone to help improve the fort. At one time, they were also used to carry powder from Fort William and Mary to other towns in the area.
To show the time required for loads transported by gundalows, Captain Watson went to Portsmouth and back in a gundalow, and it took him six hours and fifteen minutes.
During the winter, gundalows carried goods up to the edge of the ice in Great Bay. Here it was unloaded onto the ice to be picked up by oxen-pulled carts that brought it up to the mills and back down to be shipped.
While transporting goods, it was often necessary to go under many bridges and because of this it was a chore to pull a mast and take down the square sail. Therefore, the square sail was replaced by a lateen sail. The lateen sail is very similar to the sail on the Arabian “dhow”, which is a boat found in the Mediterranean. This sail is especially interesting because it is very mobile and it moves around the mast without difficulty.
You would think for a gundalow to get under a bridge it would have to take its sail off, but that is not true. The gundalow had a weight on the yard arm closest to the deck. This weight could be released and the top of the yard would drop down. To help them they’d come upstream with the wind behind them, then they would quickly drop the sail and let the momentum take them under the bridge. When they got to the other side, the sail went back up and the boat continued on its way.
Since a boat didn’t haw pumps to pump it out, it had a plug on the side to help keep it drained since wooden boats tend to leak. When the tide is out, the plug is pulled so the water will drain out. However, if you don’t remember to plug it back up, you might end up like the three. men in Mr. Getchell’s story who went out on the town and had a little too much to drink. When they came back on the gundalow, they went to bed. However, they forgot to put the plug back in and when they woke up the next morning they found themselves in water up to their ears!
When only the stern and bow had a deck, loading and unloading was often difficult. To load the cargo off and on the boat, they had to lift it up and over the stern and bow. To help ease the loading and unloading process, another change took place. This change was a deck over the whole gundalow.
The average length of a gundalow is between sixty to seventy feet long. However, Mr. Getchell knows a man in Newington whose grandfather owned one that was ninety feet long, which is pretty uncommon.
Gundalows gradually changed from a scow stern and bow to a model that had a spoon-shaped stern and bow. This model moved with greater ease in the water. Another change which took place was the addition of a fixed rudder and a deck covering the front and stern. Before the fixed rudder was put in, the movement of the boat was too difficult and it was probably steered by a long oar. This would move the boat from side to side a lot.
(photo of the Captain Edward H. Adams gundalow, Historical Society archives)
The real gundalows are built in this fashion: first, the bottom is built, then cross pieces which hold the bottom are attached. Then the knees (made out of curved timber) are put on. One way of getting curved boards is to go out into the woods and cut down a curved tree. Another way to get a curved board is to curve a straight board. The advantage of finding a curved tree is that it is stronger and it is usually made of white oak. This curved piece is then tacked to the bottom cross piece using tree nails. Putting in tree nails is done by drilling a hole through the wood and then wedging it so it won’t fall out.
”I suggest that if you haven’t been down to Strawbery Banke (in Portsmouth) that you go and look at the real gundalow that’s being built there,” Mr. Getchell encouraged us. He added that this model is being built exactly the way the real ones were. In earlier times, farmers used to get together in the winter and build a gundalow for $1500. Today the one at Strawbery Banke is costing $60,000.
I think the gundalow project is interesting and that it’s a good idea to restore history so that we may share in the time of our ancestors.
These days when there is a fire in the town of Newmarket, within minutes the fire department, with its modern equipment, is at the fire ready to save the building. It was never like this in the 1800’s when the Tiger No.1 was fighting fires.
The Tiger was purchased in March, 1852. It was built by Edward Lesley who was not the biggest name in handtubs at that time, therefore, there weren’t many manufactured. The Tiger, which is still in the same location on Main Street as it has always been, is one of a small number of Lesley handtubs that are left.
The way the Tiger works is as such: About fifteen to twenty men are on each side of the handtub pumping the brakes up and down, which moves the pistons which bring in the water that is used to put out the fire. There is a dome inside, which keeps the water at a level pressure; there is another piston that goes down, forces the water into the hose and out the nozzle and onto the fire. The nearest water source available was used in those days, so in 1895 or 1896, a small hydrant system was installed and that brought on the demise of the handtubs.
In the 1800’s, the concept of fire fighting was totally different than today. Back then the main idea was not to save the house but to keep the fire from spreading, so when a house started on fire it was considered a loss from the beginning.
The Tiger was not the only handtub that Newmarket has ever had. In 1832, when the fire department started, a coffee grinder type handtub was bought by the Newmarket Manufacturing Company. In 1839, the same company bought a brake type machine like the Tiger, only the water could not be pulled in from its source; it had to be poured in by bucket. Later on, the Granite No.2 was purchased and stayed in town until 1932 when the Newmarket Manufacturing Company left and went to Lowell; Massachusetts. It may have been scrapped for metal during World War II.
The two biggest fires in the years that the Tiger was being used happened between 1850 and 1870. The first was in 1857 when Mill No. 4 burned to the ground; the only thing that remained was the granite wall in the middle. If it wasn’t for the fire wall, Newmarket could have easily lost some of the other mill buildings. That’s when the Newmarket Manufacturing Company replaced the town’s first brake type engine with the Granite No. 2.
The other major fire was most likely Newmarket’s worst fire ever. It occurred in 1866. Twenty-five to thirty houses were lost between where the depot was and where Griffin’s Hardware now stands. Besides Newmarket’s own handtubs others were brought in by train from Exeter, Dover and as far away as Haverhill and Newburyport, Massachusetts. After it was all over, they felt lucky not to have lost the whole town.
There were many problems with the handtubs like the Tiger and the Granite. First of all, they had to be pulled to the fire by about ten to fifteen men. This was a slow process, so when the engine finally got to the fire itself, the men were very tired and often even the townspeople had to pump the brakes of the machine. A big problem in the winter was that the water in the tub of the engine would freeze, so fires were built under the machine itself. This sometimes caused the wooden parts of the engine to start on fire and the handtub was lost. Another problem was that the Tiger only pumped 200 gallons of water per minute when pumped as hard as possible, compared to the modern fire engines which pump as much as 1200-1500 gallons of water per minute.
In 1896, the Tiger No. I fought its last fire. At that time, the people thought they had seen the last of the Tiger, but in 1955, the fire department took the Tiger to its first muster in Boston. For those of you who don’t know what a muster is, it is a competition between fifteen and up to twenty-eight handtubs, each one trying to spray water the longest distance. To be really effective, you need between thirty and forty men working the brakes. You have fifteen minutes to get your engine on a base, which is twenty-five feet by thirty feet, and pump it down a length of paper which marks the distance. You can pump as many times as possible but after the first thirty seconds you are exhausted because you are pumping up to 120 times a minute (or two pumps a second). Pumping isn’t the only thing that is done at the musters. There is also a parade of all the engines in the morning and a barbecue in the afternoon, according to Vince Jarosz, foreman of the Tiger, who attends ten to twelve musters per year. He also said that anyone can go and they could use the help of all those interested.
The Tiger won the New England State Veteran’s Firemen League Championship eight times since 1955 and from 1970-1981, held the world’s record with a distance of 262 feet. The day it was broken the wind was blowing very strongly, but if Newmarket would have had a full team of pumpers they could possibly have broken their own record.
Prize money is awarded to the teams with the seven longest streams at the muster. The winner gets up to $400 for finishing first. This year Newmarket didn’t finish first once, but won over $1200, overall. Even though they never finished first they came as close as six inches. They could have overcome this margin if they had had a full team.
The Tiger is pulled to all musters by a 1953 Hudson. This Hudson is very rare because it is a two-door. Right now it is worth $4000 but if it were to be restored it could be worth up to $7000. It has a ‘54 engine but still runs like a charm. The prize money that is won is used to buy gas for the Hudson and keep it in good running condition, as well as to take care of the handtub and the old firehouse, where the Tiger and Hudson are kept, and to buy tools to repair the engine and the car.
Besides the pumpers, there is also a foreman at the muster. Mr. Fred Harclerode was once its foreman, as well as the organization’s president and vice president. He told me that the job of the foreman is to be the “chief”. He stands on top of the engine and determines when the time is best for pumping and mainly controls getting the machine ready to be pumped, such as getting it on the base from where it will pump. As most of you may know there were a couple of musters in Newmarket during the 70’s but the next one won’t be until 1984. Hopefully by then, the Tiger will have its world record back. In the meantime, Mr. Jarosz encourages high school students to join the action as the more manpower they have, the greater the distance and thorn what makes a winner.
At the beginning of America’s involvement in World War 1, around 1917, someone in the Newmarket Manufacturing Company had an idea: Why don’t we build some houses on the other side of Shackford’s Hill, (now called Park Hill because there used to be a park on the hill where Beaulieu’s Little League Ballpark is now). Then, they thought, we can sell them to our workers at a fair price, which means they won’t have to travel all the way from Durham and Exeter to get to work. Well, I guess this was a good idea because in 1917, six stucco duplex houses were built. This was the start of the “New Village”. By 1929, all of the houses in the village were built. Then, in the 1930’s when the Depression hit, the company moved south where work and supplies were cheaper. The Village was then left as a veritable ghost town. Then Newmarket Realty bought the houses.
In 1939, my grandfather bought the first duplex house on Beech Street from Newmarket Realty for $2500. When my father was a child and lived in the village, he and his brothers used to go to the dump down the street and get all of the old bicycle parts and carriage wheels to build go-carts before Mary Moonshine could get them. Speaking of Mary Moonshine (I’m not sure what her real last name was), she got the nickname, “Moonshine” because in her shack next to the dump on Beech Street Extension she used to make moonshine and then peddle it around the village in her wheelbarrow.
A lot of people in the Village call Beech Street Extension by a simpler name, “Dump Road”. The street was nicknamed “Dump Road” because there used to be a dump on that street. But the dump was filled in about twenty years ago and now there is a place in one corner of the lot where the town has placed a small shack and some garbage bins to put glass and paper in to be recycled.
Getting back to the Village, my father and his brothers used to do things that you wouldn’t dream of doing now. They used to get big cardboard boxes from the dump and pile them in the middle of the road at the bottom of Park Hill. Then they would race their go-carts down the hill and crash through the boxes.
During the 1960’s and early 70’s, the building of houses in the Village had almost completely stopped. But in 1977, the realtors brought in bulldozers and tractors to make a road that started at the end of Beech Street and looped around through the woods and came out on Cedar Street on the other side of the Village.
Next they built the first apartment house and everyone used to look at it and wonder at its size. Then they started to build the rest of their apartments, six in all. Everyone started to wonder what they were doing to the woods, and the whole town was in an uproar about it for awhile.
While building apartments, they were also building homes_ Now there are at least fifteen new homes and a new one is built nearly every year. The older part of the New Village, in my opinion and from what I’ve learned, has not changed very much since the Newmarket Manufacturing Company left. That’s good because I like it just the way it is.
This shows 5 of the first stucco houses which started New Village. It was taken from a postcard which was a reproduction of the original picture taken in 1917. This angle was probably taken about where Elm Street crosses the railroad tracks now.