Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fire on the Mountain

... and up in the sky ...and under the ground ...and on top of the water

Old Home Days are coming! 120 years ago in 1899 Governor Frank West Rollins invented and promoted the event.

For more information on the history of Old Home celebrations and the Rollins family check out this blog at Cow Hampshire. While you are there search for all kinds of subjects on this wonderful site. Rollins also wrote a "red book" on New Hampshire published in 1902. See pour revious blog on those "red books" here.

In his 1904 Old Home Committee report, then Governor Nahum Josiah Bachelder, who founded the series NH Farms for Summer Homes (see this previous blog) wrote an "Official Invitation" to "Absent Sons and Daughters of New Hampshire." (click on images to enlarge them).

He announced that "Our greeting will be expressed by the fires on the old hill tops, flaming from peak to peak our great joy at your return..." Throughout the years, the Old Home reports listed towns that had these fires.

In Madison they celebrate Old Home Week by building a fire in a hole in the ground and then cover it up...

...oh and they put a bunch of enamelware pots of baked beans in the hole too.

The next day they dig them back up and serve them to the waiting throngs of people. 

The firemen frequently take to the lake to cool their heels after standing in the pile of hot coals.

At another Old Home celebration, author Tom Curren uses the more traditional cast iron pots for his bean hole beans. Other foods featured at Old Home Days include pancake breakfast, community picnics, lobster dinners and s'mores with fireworks.

Tom wrote the booklet ...

On Chocorua Lake they hold a twilight lantern parade.

This year they are doing a lantern making workshop to prepare.

Donald Hall wrote a book on "Old Home Day" in which he summarized the history of the event.

For a list of Old Home celebrations see this link.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes

New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes, 2nd edition, 1904

In a previous blog we did a survey of summer lodging in the White Mountains that focused mostly on hotels and inns. We continue our celebration of summer with an item of pure gold... gold lettering on the cover that is. It is a booklet from 1904 entitled New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes.

This recent donation represents the other extreme opposite end of the accommodation spectrum from Grand Hotels to so called "summer cottages." While often rustic on the outside, for example with wooden columns that retained bark and branches on them, these cottages sometimes included large dining rooms, indoor squash courts, music pavilions, astronomical observatories, art studios, bowling alleys, boat houses, ice houses, tennis courts, stables, and quarters for maids, nannies and chauffeurs.

This booklet is part of a series published for the NH Department of Agriculture intended as a sales and promotional tool, now a tool for history. It was designed to capture interest many people who stayed in the Grand Hotels decided to purchase their own piece of paradise.

The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room has an early example from 1891 entitled Lakes and Summer Resorts in New Hampshire.

Lakes and Summer Resorts in New Hampshire, 1891

The author of this, and many of the other booklets, was N. J. (Nahum Josiah) Bachelder, who held the interesting title of New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration.

The text for this edition was very simple, basically listing the summer resorts, name of the proprietor, post office address and costs per day and per week. Here are the listings for Conway.

One of the few photos included in this booklet is a panoramic pull out view of Lake Winnipesaukee. Here is a photo of Walker's Pond, now Conway Lake.

Here is the caption that went with the photo.

The library also has an 1891 book entitled Adopting an Abandoned Farm.

The book includes chapters on attending auctions, buying a horse, starting a poultry farm, prose, peacocks,and how to deal with ghosts. Part of the fun of old books can be clippings and inscriptions found within the covers (click on images to enlarge them).

The cover of our 1894 edition featured bees and goldenrod flowers.

New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes, 1894

Our 1895 edition features handsome gold lettering and edging on the cover.

New Hampshire Homes, 1895

This edition is fully illustrated. In addition to selling the buildings, you could also buy copies of the photographs suitable for framing.

Here are a couple examples from the book.

Our 1902 and 1904 editions featured an Art Nouveau design.

New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes, 1st edition, 1902

The 1902 above had silver lettering while our 1904 below had gold lettering.

New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes, 2nd edition, 1904

To learn more about summer homes in the area, you can check out this book by Dr. Bryant Tolles.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Timothy, Clover and Redtop: More Preserving Summer

In our previous blog we looked at tea and jam as a way of saving a bit of summer to use year round. Now we will look at how what we can do now, in the summer, so we can have a nice breakfast in the winter with a hot cup of tea with milk and butter or cream on blueberry muffins. Sound good? Well historically you had to plan and prepare for that.

The key to that preparation can be seen in the field in the photo above. What follows are some details about the changing nature of preserving summer's harvest of grass for the winter.

I took this photo on the first day of summer, June 21, 2019, from the Saco Valley Overlook. To map the location of the viewpoint click here. To see the street view click here.

The long green stripes seen on the right are known as windrows, hay that has been cut, dried and raked into rows.

The photo below was taken June 29 and shows that right field has been cleared of the cut hay.

The dark stains show that the field has been manured. A photo taken July 5 shows the right field has grown green and the left field has been cut and bailed into round bales.

A closer view shows the round bales on the left of the truck, and a wagon full of square bales in the background.

Mowing hay is an important part of keeping the view open. It is also a way of preserving the food value of grass so livestock can eat it over the winter. The painting below shows the finished product heading towards the barn. It is by the artist Albert Bierstadt. Titled Haying, Conway Meadows, its shows from right to left the southern end of the  Moats, and the Three Sister, and the peak of Chocorua as seen near the old ford near the athletic fields near Kennett High School.

There are remnants of horse powered hay equipment displayed as lawn ornaments all over Conway. Here is a horse powered sickle bar mower.

Here is a photo of a similar machine with the sickle bar lowered and the farmer sitting on the sulky seat. 

At the Hobbs Tavern in West Ossipee is a horse drawn machine known as a tedder that reproduces the hand powered operation of fluffing the hay with a pitchfork to help the hay dry in the sun.

Here is a sketch showing how this one machine does the work of eight men.

Here is a photo of a farmer using the tedder.

The tedder can toss the hay as high as three feet in the air before it returns to the ground.

The next step is to rake the dried hay into windrows. The Hobbs Tavern "open air museum" features a slide delivery rake used to roll the cut hay into windrows.

Here is an example of a farmer using a side delivery rake.

This photo shows the complicated gears involved in making it work.

The next step is to pick up the hay from the windrows and to put it in the wagon. Here is a view of it being done by a horse powered machine known as a hay loader...

... with a team of horses pulling the wagon and loader over the windrows.

Again, the idea behind the machine was to use gears and gizmos to reproduce the action of hand powered, man powered pitch fork to toss it up on the wagon. 

Each of the six wooden bars are fitted with mechanical fingers and the gears pull the hay from the windrow up the loader ramp before cascading over the top onto the wagon.

The hay is then dumped over the loader onto the top of the load on the wagon. At the barn a hay fork is set into the hay on the wagon.

Then through a set of pulleys, ropes and trolley rails a large amount of hay can be lifted high into the air, pulled sideways along the ridge of the barn and dropped onto the hayloft.

The final step was to spread manure to fertilize the field for the next crop of hay.

Again, the idea was to mechanize the use of a pitchfork to spread the manure onto the fields.

Here is an example of a manure spreader displayed along the side of the road in the Mount Washington Valley.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.