Lisbon Area Historical Society – Annual Meeting – January 20, 2016

                            Do You Know What’s In Our Museum? By Andrea M. Fitzgerald

When you visit the Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum in the Parker Block you will immediately see the artifacts nicely displayed throughout the room, on the floor, in the window space, in the cabinets and on the walls. Those items are easy to see, but we have so many other historically valuable items stored in the back room. They are readily available and easy to find when needed, because every item in our museum is assigned a number and stored in its respective category as well as entered into a database with its information and location.
We can get a very clear picture of Lisbon, Lyman, and Landaff (the 3 L’s) from the late 1700s through today from our collection which includes photographs, journals, diaries, letters, documents, books, billheads, ads, cards, posters, postcards, invitations, stereoscopic views, autograph books, signs, clothing, quilts, shoes, textiles, scrapbooks, written stories, and general history, newspapers, genealogy and abstracts of local Revolutionary War soldiers, town reports, maps, and other artifacts relating to our towns’ businesses, churches, schools, houses, farms, people, the railroad, buildings, wars, town government and utilities, festivals and other events, organizations (such as the DAR, Friends in Council, the VFW, the American Legion, the GAR, the Dorcas Society, the Masons, Order of the Eastern Star, the Lions Club, the Lisbon District Nursing Association, the Grange, the Lisbon Board of Trade, Lisbon Outing Club, Lisbon Development Company, Lisbon Main Street, Inc., and more…), cemeteries, historic sites, mines, natural and manmade disasters, and our towns’ bicentennials and sestercentennials.
Everything is safely stored in acid-free protectors within acid-free containers for preservation sake and to be safely used to help promote the 3L’s as well as share with researchers and people or groups who are generally interested in our history. Not a week goes by that the Society doesn’t receive an email, letter, or phone call from someone here in town or across the country that is looking for information about a family member who lived here, a historic site, or information on the towns’ history in general. Sometimes they are kind enough to purchase a book or map, give a donation, or share with us information they have.
The Society has been very fortunate to have ongoing donations from families with deep roots in the 3L’s. Specifically, the largest collection relates to the Bishop and allied families. We have on display a spinning wheel and yarn skeiner from the Bishop family. There are hundreds of letters, documents, photographs, journals and other items, the oldest being the original deed dated 1770 when Enos Bishop was deeded his Lisbon property on the west side of the Ammonoosuc River. Some of that property was later the site of the Lisbon golf course. My favorite is a deed dated 1818 whereby Enos’s son, Josiah Bishop, was deeded for $20, pew #20 in Lisbon’s first meetinghouse by Henry Pond. And why was that pond originally named Henry Pond? No one seemed to know. Today it goes by the name of Hanno Pond, because the Hanno family once lived beside it. We have no Henrys in our history – so I thought. In the Bishop collection, I found an answer to the Henry Pond question. A deed to Josiah Bishop conveyed a parcel of land near the old meetinghouse, and the description of the boundary mentioned the line going along the fence of the old Henry place. So, now we know the origin of the name Henry Pond, and I always refer to the pond by that name, not Hanno Pond. There was a Henry family.
The next largest collection is from the Brummer and allied families, and the oldest item in that collection is a late 1700’s linen nightcap made and worn by Nancy Harriman. The Harrimans settled Bath, N.H., and married into the Brummer family through the Carleton line. Do you know of Mercy Harriman’s Garden, a historic New Hampshire site marked by a highway marker just below Bath Village? Nancy was Mercy’s sister. To have this nightcap and other items made from their flax is very meaningful. Also in the collection is the caddie’s cap worn by Nancy’s descendant, Edward Brummer, when he caddied at the Sunset Hill House Golf Course in the early 1900s. The cap is signed by Ed and his caddie buddies. Ed’s mother, Mary Carleton Brummer, worked many hours to put together an invaluable abstract of local Revolutionary War soldiers, and she also traveled the area taking photographs of old houses, barns, etc. She did this thirty years before there was ever a historical society here. We are so grateful for her work – the hard way –by writing and driving around to find information. No sitting at a desk searching the Internet.
The Goudie family has also donated many artifacts and some of the best period photographs in our collection. The importance of the Goudie collection is enhanced, because it was George Goudie’s habit of making notes on each and every item with humor and historical facts.
Dr. Harold Pickwick and his wife, Hazel Ash Pickwick, were involved in the founding of the Society in 1964, and the Society is grateful to have among other items donated by the Pickwicks, a red child’s sleigh used by Hazel Pickwick. The Pickwicks also spent a great deal of time abstracting local cemeteries and enhancing written histories. Dr. Pickwick donated a doctor’s bag that was given to him by the descendants of Dr. William Child, a Bath physician who served in the Civil War. Child was at Ford’s Theater and witnessed President Lincoln’s assassination. Was the bag in our collection in Washington with Dr. Child?
Another great collection comes from the personal and business letters of the Allen and allied families, one being J. Henry Allen, the man credited with starting the gold rush in Lisbon and Lyman. Yes, there was a gold rush, and we have information and photographs of the mines.
We have in our collection the very first ticket sold at the new Lisbon Opera House for a performance of Way Down East on May 26, 1902. We have a cup and a Wedgewood inkwell pulled out of the ashes after the Main Street fire of 1901. How about a two-faced boy baby doll, one side smiling, the other side frowning? We have a c. 1800s glass measuring beaker and tablespoon from Martson’s Gilt Edge Pharmacy, the precursor to The Family Drug Store which was operated by George Marshall from 1942-1997. On display is a drafting set which once belonged to Sylvanus D. Morgan, a Lisbon architect who was one of the most prolific White Mountain resort builders. He built the c. 1891 Lisbon Public School, and is credited with opening up the section of town known as Highland and Armstrong Avenue on which he built many beautiful homes, including his home across from the school.
There are always surprises, even when we have looked and looked at items for years. If someone new contacts us, we may see the information or item in our collection in a whole new light, for example something tucked in a book or journal that we never noticed before. Probably my favorite find was in a large Parker-Young Company store ledger for the years 1866 to 1868. There was a little scrap of paper stuck deep in the margin of one page with a scribbled, handwritten note on it which reads, “I wonder if Mills was wearing these when he killed Maxwell.” The ledger entry made on the page was dated September 19, 1866, and listed that Samuel Mills purchased 1 pair of socks for .50, 1 pair of long johns for $2.50, 1 undershirt for $2.50, and 1 pair of overalls for $2.25. Mills paid one month’s board at a Parker Young boarding house in the amount of $18.00 on December 7, 1866 and drew $80.10 for work in the Lisbon Gold Mine the next day. After doing a little research about Samuel Mills, I found his name under the last public hanging in New Hampshire. After Mills drew the $80.10 for the gold mine work, he was greedier still and pursued George Maxwell, a Franconia miner who Mills had heard was in receipt of money. Mills went to Maxwell’s farm in Franconia and killed Maxwell with an axe, stole what valuables he could find, took off in Maxwell’s horse and buggy, and went to Berlin and from there took a train to British Columbia. When one of Maxwell’s acquaintances found him murdered and his horse and buggy stolen, the trail was traced to Berlin, supposedly because one of the horse’s shoes made a distinctive print. One legend says a private detective was brought in from Boston and took up residence in Franconia for weeks, writing contacts in supposed hide-out places, especially noting Mills’ distinctively strange looking teeth, finally finding him in British Columbia and bringing him back to stand trial. Yet another version claims the detective found Mills in a cave in Galena, Illinois. In any case, it is a fact that Samuel Mills was hanged in Haverhill, N.H. in May of 1868, the last public hanging in New Hampshire. On his jail cell, Mills wrote: “Samma Mills murder, going to be ‘ung to-day of May – good fellow, but no man don’t know it.” George Maxwell is buried in the Willow Cemetery on Streeter Pond Road. A simple inscription on the back of his stone reads, “Killed by Samuel Mills.”
So, take some time to explore the Society’s amazing collection. You never know what you will find, but I know you will find something you never knew about, and surely will find an interesting connection to someone or something you already know.
The museum at 6 South Main Street in the Parker Block is open year-round by chance or appointment. Call 603-838-6146 or visit our website for more information