Site No. 16. The Mathes Tenement House
By 1840, Newmarket Manufacturing Company had three large mills in operation and an influx of workers. Benjamin Mathes of Durham saw both need and opportunity. More worker housing was needed, and there was an opportunity to sell all sorts of goods to mill workers. In 1838, he purchased the Tenney property and started building.
He had no trouble finding a source of building material. His father was a brickmaker and quarryman. And his cousin Jacob Mathers’s quarry on Long Marsh Road in Durham had provided the granite for the new textile mills by the Lamprey River falls. Oxen housed nearby would once again transport heavy loads of stone into Newmarket.
This tenement house was promptly rented out. Immigrant tenants ranged from the hot-tempered Irishman Michael Carrigg to the hardworking Italian widow Caroline Zocchi. Although there were rumors about a brothel on the top floor during the early 1900s, there is no hard evidence. Yet.
Next door is the wood frame house that Benjamin built for his own family. Members of the next generation bought other properties until there were four working Mathes farms in Newmarket. By 1900, the house next door was rented out as well. Other immigrants such as the LaBonte and Demers families settled in and called it home.
The Mathes name would be part of Newmarket for over 150 years. All of Benjamin’s sons—and several of his grandsons—married women named Mary. So there were a lot of women in town named Mary Mathes. His eldest son Constantine ran a dry goods store in the brick building. He once won the “Heavy Gentlemen’s Bet” at Treadwell’s Tavern, outweighing his competitors at 265 pounds. Unfortunately, Constantine, his brother Benjamin, Jr., and his father all died of heart disease in the 1890s.
Constantine’s six children entered a variety of professions—from event coordinator to policeman. His step-granddaughter Helen Dore Boyleston was a nurse on the front lines of World War I. She later wrote a series of Sue Barton books about nursing; she was one of the first authors to appeal to the young adult reader. She lived in Albania for several years with her close friend Rose Wilder, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The stone tenement remained in the Mathes family until 1903. Benjamin’s great-grandson Dana was the last Mathes to live in town, on the family farm on Wadleigh Falls Road.
Site No. 17 is here on the left, just before the crosswalk. It has been Riverworks since 1983.
END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.
16 (1-3 Exeter St.) MATHES TENEMENTS – ca. 1840. Benjamin Mathes rented this stone house out—and built a wooden house next door for his own family.
Nellie Palmer George, in her book Old Newmarket, describes the building as:
The focal point of the junction of Main and Exeter Streets on the East side, has been since the 1840s the two-story tenement house which is the largest domestic example of stone construction popular in the New England area from 1822 to about mid-century.
Then there’s the architectural description for the 1980 Newmarket NH Historic District, as written by Dr. Richard Candee:
…center entry, 5-bay, 2 story rubble stone house with two chimneys in each end wall. Front wall is roughly coursed rubble with corner quoins, finished granite lintels over6/6 sash; Italianate door hood on brackets over sidelights and transom. Modern raised roof ‘dormers’ front and rear with 2 paired windows separated by a smaller single one.
This stone tenement as well as the wooden tenement immediately downhill of the stone building were constructed by Benjamin Mathes in response to a housing need in town.
photo: 1 & 3 Exeter Street as they look today — both buildings were constructed by Benjamin Mathes after 1838)
This spot had once been part of Lovering’s Orchard. Attorney William Tenney had purchased this property from Widow Sarah Mead (at the same time he had purchased the Main Street properties (Sites 15 & 17); and his family lived in a small 1 ½ story wooden building on this site. The stone structure was built after 1838 when Deacon Benjamin Mathes purchased the property from Tenny’s estate. Mathes tore down the wooden structure and brought in brick and stone to construct the tenement building.
The records don’t stipulate where the brick and stone came from other than “local”; however, Benjamin’s father owned brick factories along the Oyster River and his cousin Jacob Mathes[i] was a stone cutter on a Durham Point quarry. The Jacob Mathes quarry on Long Marsh Road in Durham provided the granite for the textile mills of the Newmarket Manufacturing Company (NH Historic District, #80000302 on the National Register).
After 1827 Newmarket’s stone buildings were no longer made from the huge granite blocks. Instead the smaller “trap rock” left behind in the quarries was used. It was used to construct not only this building, but also the other Mathes buildings (Sites No. 15 & 17), the Stone Church (ca. 1833), the Stone School (1841), and Mill No, 4 (1869).
Benjamin Mathes – brickmaker
Jacob Mathes – Stone mason, quarry owner.
The following information and images are from a 2017 study by the Durham NH Historic Association.[ii]
“The land on the north side of Longmarsh Road had been owned by the descendants of Captain Francis Mathes since the 17th century. In 1850, it was owned by his descendant Jacob Mathes, a stone cutter and quarry owner who had worked at the Quincy, MA quarries as a young man.”
Oxen were highly valued at quarries because no other animal possessed the great strength necessary for hauling granite. This image is a great example of a typical quarry scene with oxen hauling a huge slab of granite. The Longmarsh quarry had a special fenced enclosure for housing oxen.
The Longmarsh Road Quarries Historic District qualifies for listing on the National Register under criterion A and criterion C. These quarries produced a specific variety of granite used to build many buildings currently listed on the National Register in Newmarket, Portsmouth and elsewhere. Different technologies employed to split and extract the granite are visible at the quarries which operated during the 18th and 19th centuries.
”This quarry was developed by Thomas Pinkham and later owned by James Smart, James M Smart and Charles Smart. The technology that enabled the controlled splitting of granite became known in 1767, according to research published by James Garvin, Architectural Historian for the State of New Hampshire. After this date, granite quarries became important for the local economy, particularly in Durham, due to the quality of the bedrock.
“In 1850, the residents of Durham voted to employ Jacob Mathes to quarry a slab of granite which was to be engraved “Durham New Hampshire” and donated for use in the new monument being built in honor of George Washington. Jacob Mathes quarried the granite from his own quarry and Stephen Kendall engraved the stone at his workshop by the Mill Pond dam. The block of granite was shipped by railroad to Washington, DC where it was placed in the wall of the Washington Monument. The stone is located in the wall by the stairs at the 130- foot level. The block of granite is 6 feet long and 2 feet high.”
The rubble stone found in the Mathes buildings is the same as stones put around private dwellings in Portsmouth such as the Rundlet House. “…James Rundlet paid both Robert and Benjamin Mathes of Durham $25 for “1 load paving rocks” in 1807. By the same period, both Benjamin Mathes and local quarryman Thomas Pinkham (1780-1851) of Durham were supplying split and hammered granite in large sizes and precise dimensions. To judge from the cost of stone supplied by Durham mason Benjamin Mathes for the house of James Rundlet in 1807, the cost of hammered granite underpinning was about 4 shillings or 67¢ per foot.”
If the Mathes family ever occupied the stone building, it was before photography. Later on, Benjamin Mathes built the wooden tenement immediately next door. As can be seen in the stereoscopic cards, he and his growing family resided in the wooden tenement until they earned enough money to build or buy houses of their own.
With the constant housing need in this mill town, the stone house was easily rented out; and as time went on, both buildings would be tenement buildings.
After the Mathes family moved out, three different families lived for generations in the white wooden tenement building at 3, 5, and 7 Exeter Street:
#3 Edward/Alice Dyer family until after WWI;
#5 Flavern /Arthur & Eva Labonte family;
#7 Joseph/Israel & Sarah Demers family (the 1919 photo of their eldest daughter Eva and her friend Aldea shows them in front of that same doorway with the ornate carved overhang)
a few of the past occupants
1—- Michael Carrigg - an Irish Civil War veteran assaulted his wife with an axe and banned from town….
Michael enlisted 4 Sep 1862 from Newmarket at age 27 as a Private in Company G, 10th Infantry. He mustered in 8 Sep 1862 and mustered out 21 Jun 1865 at Richmond, VA. He was born in Ireland between about 1835 to John and Brigit Carrigg. At age 32 on 2 Nov 1871 he married Catherine Kelly Farreau in Portsmouth, NH. She was also born in Ireland. At the time he enlisted he noted Greenland as his residence, and Portsmouth was credited for his service. However, he had been working in Newmarket, and his name is engraved on the Bronze GAR Monument.
In 1879 he was paid $61.80 for services rendered to the town of Newmarket. Later in the year on December 26, 1879, Patrick Behen, a resident of this town, was found dead in the back room of the apartment occupied by Michael Carrigg and his wife. There were apparently suspicious circumstances attending his death. A coroner’s inquest was held, but after the most thorough and searching investigation no evidence of foul play could be found. He lay upon his face and side, with his legs and arms drawn up, and appeared to have died from suffocation. No bruises, wounds, or marks of violence could be found upon the body.
The 1880 census lists Michael and Catherine still living in Newmarket at the Mathes stone tennement building. He was working as a laborer, and his wife Catherine worked in the cotton mills. Michael and Catherine liked to drink, and when they drank too much, it usually ended in a domestic brawl with the neighbors calling the police. Such was the case in December 1881, the weekend before Christmas when they got into a yet another drunken brawl. He struck Catherine a severe blow to the head with the blunt end of an axe which inflected an ugly flesh wound with profuse bleeding. The police were called and immediately arrested him. He was up before the Court on Monday to answer to the charge of assault. The court room reporter for the Newmarket Advertiser reported: “as the woman’s wound was not dangerous, and they both were notorioulsy bad characters, it was thought best by all concerned to give them 48 hours in which to leave the place. The mandate was obeyed and it is hoped they will not return and ageain infest this community.”
The couple left town for the Town of Epping. Michael died in Epping on 30 Sep 1888 pf Bright’s disease at age 60. In 1890 Catherine was living in Epping and filed for a widow’s pension. Both husband and wife died at the Brentwood hospital. Michael before 1890, and Catherine on 18 Oct 1917 at age 74. They may have been banned by the cicil authorities from town, but they were welcomed by the religious, as both are buried in Calvary Cemetery. And every Memorial Day the Town decorates his grave with a US flag to honor his service during the Civil War.
2—- George H. Greeley and his family moved into the building between 1870 and 1880. Mr. Greeley had been a carpenter living in Epping prior to coming to town. In Newmarket he tried his hand at several ventures:
He operated a grocery store in 1880, with his 17-year-old son Jacob working as a clerk. The store was broken into twice during the year, but nothing had been taken except a hatchet which was used to force open the safe. Fortunately, said safe was always emptied at the close of day. In 1881 he opened a new store at the end of Young’s new wharf on the Lamprey and joined with Benjamin Mathes, Jr. in a retail coal/lumber/lime and cement business.
On Aug 27, 1881 townspeople turned out as the schooner “Little Gandy” arrived with 300 tons of coal and unloaded at their new location on the Young Wharf. It was customary back then that any coal spilling into the river was scooped up by older boys and girls who were brave enough to duck under the wharf along the riverbank. Any coal they could gather was brought home for the family to dry out and use.
The Greeleys were active in the community. Both George and Jacob were members of Tiger # One Engine Company and showed up at every call. In 1882 George was elected to be on the Measurers of Wood and Surveyors of Lumber Committee due to his shipping experience. He was an experienced sailor, and he would take groups of a dozen or so members of the Yachting Club for a week-long excursion out to sea.
But the family had more than its share of bad luck. Mrs. Greeley died suddenly in Feb. 1885 at the age of 48, leaving her husband and two sons Jacob, age 22 and Lewis Greeley age 9. In January 1886, George shipped hundreds of barrels of apples to England; but that year, that sale wasn’t enough to appease his backers; they put a lien on the store, demanded payment and seized his goods.
Jacob married Ella M. Johnson (also of Newmarket) in June 1889. The couple moved to Exeter and then to East Kingston where Jacob worked as a butcher until he fell in an accident with a runaway team, breaking his arm.
At one point George fell ill, and Jacob moved George in to live with him and his family. Late one January night in 1892, while walking along the railroad tracks in East Kingston, George was struck by a train and died instantly from a broken neck. George’s two sons struggled with mental illness:
Jacob was committed for a short time at the State Hospital. His wife Ella took their three children, left the house and divorced him in 1903 for extreme mental cruelty.
Lewis had been a chef in a private home for a wealthy client in Cambridge, MA before suffering a complete breakdown in 1906. He was committed to the NH State Hospital in Concord, where he remained for 44 years until his death in 1950. George, his wife and their two sons are all buried in Riverside.
3—-The Manning family was living here in 1893, when one of them was stricken with scarlet fever. Consequently, the entire house was quarantined.
4—-There was a lingering rumor of a brothel operating on the top floor of this stone building during the early 1900s when Newmarket was a “jumping mill town”; but, unlike Portsmouth’s Red Light District, we have no evidence (yet) to substantiate the validity of that claim.
5—-Between 1911 and 1913, John Walker leased rooms here to house several Italian workers, while they worked on installing sewer lines along Main Street. There are several accounts of these workers digging holes in the back yard of the house to cook their meals.
6—-The Luoni-Zocchi-Malo Family
Alfred and Caroline Malo lived in this building at one point; they worked at their variety store, a fruit and confectionary across the street. Caroline was known for the many sweet desserts she created in her home kitchen.
Caroline emigrated from Italy in 1900, arriving in Boston with five dollars in her pocket. She and a friend settled in Dorchester, Mass. In 1909 at age 19 she married Ciproano Luoini, a painter and decorator in Boston who had immigrated in 1904. They had a son Elliot born in April 1911; Ciproani died three years later of kidney disease at age 31.
In 1916, Caroline remarried Joseph Zocchi of Newmarket who operated the Zocchi Fruit & Variety store across the street in another Mathes stone building (Site No. 15). Joseph was born in Italy and had also arrived in Boston in 1900. In the 1920 census they were living at 1 Exeter Street with their children—eight-year-old Elliot Luoni, and year-old daughter Ruth Zocchi. The following year, the week before Christmas, Joseph Zocchi died suddenly at age 37 of a ruptured appendix. Widowed once again, Caroline now had two small children to care for and was the sole proprietor of a fruit store—in the midst of its busiest season.
In 1923 Caroline married Alfred Malo. Alfred was born in Canada in 1887; during WWI he had enlisted from town in March 1918, volunteering to serve the US government as a carpenter. Alfred and other carpenters from across the country built the aviation field at San Antonio, Texas. Within a year after returning to Newmarket he purchased property on South Street and built his own home. After he and Caroline were married, they kept the store (renamed the Malo Variety) and ran it from 1923 up until shortly after 1940. As Fred was a carpenter and painter by trade, he left the shop primarily for Caroline to run.
After their four-month-old son died of pneumonia in 1925, Caroline returned to Italy, spending the entire summer of 1926 visiting family. She and Alfred later moved to a house on Maple Street— where family members still reside.
Alfred was a founding member in August 1930 of the Newmarket Businessmen’s Association, which was drawn up in preparation for the Newmarket Manufacturing Company’s closing. He died in 1972 at age 84—a 71-year resident of Newmarket. At the time of her death in 1989 Caroline had lived in Newmarket for 61 years.
Caroline’s son Elliot kept his father’s name of Luoni. He married and raised his family in Massachusetts. His 2012 obituary reads in part: “Elliot L. Luoni, age 100, … was born in Dorchester, raised …in Newmarket, NH. He graduated from Newmarket High School, Class of 1928”. [He was a stellar athlete and prize pitcher for NHS Baseball team] “He lived most of his life in West Quincy, and worked … for the former National Overall Company in Dorchester. He was a talented drummer, and he played at many functions … in and around Boston. He also played on boats, including trips to Provincetown. Married to the late Elsa T. (Marcolini) Luoni, he had three children: Janice, Kenneth and Barbara, and ten grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. He was brother of the late Ruth Willey”.
Caroline and Joseph Zocchi’s daughter Ruth grew up at 1 Exeter Street, went to Newmarket schools, and became a bookkeeper. She married Ralph Willey in April 1940, before he was sent with the U.S. Army to the European front. He worked for the Post Office for 35 years, was a 30-year volunteer with the Newmarket Fire Department, and a Scout Master. After retiring, they moved to Florida. Ralph died in 1997, and Ruth died in 2002. They left two children John and Caroline, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Tenement Owners after the Mathes Family
Deed Transfers of the Mathes Stone Tenement Building (Exeter & Main Streets)
 In geology, “trap rock” is a non-granite igneous rock such as basalt. (In geology.com, trap rock is defined as “dark igneous rocks used to make crushed stone.”) However, local builders and historians often use the term “trap rock” for these smaller chunks of granite and other igneous rocks .
 Deed Search by George Walker, New Market Historical Society
[i] Durham Historic Association Historic Resources Testimony Impact of the proposed Seacoast Reliability SEC Docket No. 15-04, Durham, NH July 31, 2017 — concerning a proposal which would allow Eversource access to build Pylons on the property.
[ii] Durham Historic Association …. Testimony
(1) Old Newmarket, Historical Sketches, Nellie Palmer George, News-Letter Press, Exeter, NH 1932.
(2) Newmarket NH Historic District, by Dr. Richard Candee, 1980, Commissioned by the Town of Newmarket.
(3) Durham Historic Association Historic Resources Testimony Impact of the proposed Seacoast Reliability SEC Docket No. 15-04, Durham, NH July 31, 2017 — concerning a proposal which would allow Eversource access to build Pylons on the property.
(2) Candee writes in the Historic District report that Benjamin Franklin and his son Benjamin William Mathes were the creators of the tenement building. Sylvia Fitz Getchell leaves a question mark by that line. She was correct, as Candee is a generation off. Benjamin Franklin Mathes was born in 1844, four years after the building was built.
(3) Deed Search by George Walker, New Market Historical Society.
(4) History of Newfields, Rev. James Hill Fitts, Rumford Press, Concord, NH 1912. pg 584
(5) New York Times Obituary, 1984
(6) Allcock, John B.; Young, Antonia (1991). Black Lambs & Grey Falcons: Women Travelers in the Balkans. Berghahn Books. pp. 108–9.
(7) (Silvey, Anita (1995). Children’s Books and Their Creators. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 76–77