John E. Cochran opened the first insurance agency in Windham in 1924. Eventually his son became a partner in the business, and the name was changed to "John E. Cochran & Son Agency." They remained the only insurance business in Windham until George H. Butterfield, Jr. opened an insurance agency in 1951. The Cochrans operated their agency until 1962 when they sold the operation; the business did not continue to operate in Windham. For one year Butterfield was left the only insurance agent in town, until Eleanor Zins opened her agency in 1963; Zins closed her business after only one year. By the early 1970s Butterfield had sold his insurance business, and for the past four decades various insurance agents have operated in Windham.
UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS FOR HISTORIC TALES OF WINDHAM:
Saturday, September 10, 2:00 - 5:00PM, at the Windham Museum (3 North Lowell Road, Windham, NH): Both new and lifelong residents of Windham will appreciate this fascinating look at Windham’s past. The author intersperses interesting stories about the town with illustrations, many from his private collection. With all the current road construction in town, the chapter on “Building North Lowell Road” is an interesting contrast. The entire cost was $317.69! Please join the trustees of the Windham Museum and members of the Windham Historical Society for this opportunity to meet a local author and to also see the Windham Museum. There will be a supply of Derek’s books available for purchase at the Museum. Books can be ordered by downloading the order form at the bottom of the Museum Trustees page:http://www.windhamnewhampshire.com/content/about-museum. Should supplies of the book run out at the signing, arrangements can be made for delivery of the books at a later date.
Saturday, October 8, 1:00 - 4:00PM, at Barnes & Noble (125 South Broadway, Salem, NH): The natural beauty and fertile lands of Windham drew first the Pawtucket Indians and then Scotch-Irish settlers. The town’s rich history is full of intriguing stories, including Wallace Fessenden’s unscrupulous baseball umpiring, the return of a native son after his burial at sea in Indonesia and the poetic life of the Rustic Bard, Robert Dinsmoor. Tourism boomed as early as the 1850s, when visitors flocked to the waterside temptations of Canobie Lake and later Cobbett’s Pond, where eccentric millionaire Edward Searles built his famous castle. Local historian Derek Saffie weaves together a collection of historic stories from the settlement’s roots as Nutfield to the town of Windham.
Harriet Burnham was born on June 23, 1816 and died on January 1, 1874. She was the daughter, and twelfth child, of James Burnham and Anna Smith; just under two years later the Burnham family welcomed their thirteenth, and final, child. Harriet never married and worked as a schoolteacher for much of her life. However, there is no indication she taught in any of Windham's school houses. Three of her brothers: John, Asa, and James, operated Burnham's Mill in West Windham, which produced woolen goods such as flannel. The business closed after a few years. Two of Harriet's older sisters Sarah and Augusta lived together in a home they purchased near the center of town. The house still stands today at 17 Indian Rock Road. As Harriet Burnham's trunk was found in the home, where it was stored for over one hundred years, it is likely that she resided at the home at one time.
The label inside the lid of the trunk indicates that it was manufactured in Lowell by Samuel McLanathan. An 1849 directory of Lowell lists several trunk makers, including McLanathan who operated his business at 56 Merrimac Street. However, there are records showing that McLanathan in business as early as 1843. Henry L. S. McLanathan sold trunks not too far down the street at 102 Merrimac Street. Like Samuel, Henry also manufactured shoes. Both the shoes and trunks would have required a stock of leather, as well as a skilled leather craftsman, which both of the McLanathans evidently were. Harriet Burnham likely purchased her trunk from Samuel McLanathan around 1850. Her trunk contained a small compartment in the interior of the lid (shown below), which would have been used to stuff clothing or laundry into the top of the trunk. Originally, the entire interior of the trunk would have been lined with patterned paper, some of which remains on the interior of the lid. The trunk is referred to as a stagecoach trunk because it was often used as a seat when traveling. The top would have contained ample padding to make it comfortable for a long ride travelling down uneven roads.
Although Rockingham Park will permanently close its doors on August 31, its 110 year history will hopefully be preserved far into the future. While the racetrack has for many decades been a landmark of Salem, its history has many links to the people of Windham. Before Edward Searles left Windham, due to tax reasons shortly after the construction of his castle estate was completed, he purchased Rockingham Park. At one time Searles owned approximately ten percent of the town of Salem. According to "Olden Days of Salem, New Hampshire", Searles first became involved with Rockingham Park in 1912 when he loaned the owners of the park $50,000. Searles also suggested that a large fair be held at the property in order to generate interest in the property. The first fair was held on August 29 of that year, but attendance was dismal due to poor weather conditions. When the second annual fair was scheduled for 1913, Searles took out a $100,000 insurance policy from Lloyd's of London to cover for the expenses and lost revenue should it have rained. Fortunately, for Searles and Lloyd's, it did not rain and the insurance money was never paid out. That year there were 27 gambling games operated on what was termed "Looney Lane" at the fair. However, through protest, and in some cases prosecution, gambling was eliminated from future fairs held at Rockingham Park. Honorable Chester I. Campbell was hired to promote the 1914 fair as being much "cleaner" than the previous fair. He is credited by the New England Watch and Ward Society as having turned "the worst Fair in New England, to one of the cleanest Fairs in New England." Furthermore, he "proved the cleanliness pays", by making the 1914 fair a financial success, as opposed to the 1913 fair which was deemed a financial failure.
In 1915, Searles purchased the entire property and held the fourth, and final fair, at Rockingham Park. When Searles passed away in 1920, the park was willed to Arthur T. Walker, who sold it to Rockingham Motor Speedway, Inc. in 1925. However, Windham's association with the racetrack does not end with the death of Searles. Over the years countless Windham citizens would have attended live auto races, and later horse races at Rockingham Park. Arthur Sweatt, a horse owner originally from Lowell, resided in Windham. Below is a photograph of Arthur Sweatt in the winner's circle at Rockingham Park with his horse, Direct Flight.
The following account of Sweatt's involvement with Rockingham Park and horse racing is from a hand-typed, unpublished manuscript:
"Entering the winner's circle is Direct Flight, owned and trained by Arthur Sweatt of Windham, N.h. and driven by Quentin McKenney. This has become a familiar announcement at Suffolk Downs over the past several years. This tough old campaigner has found his way into the winner's circle on numerous occasions. Direct Flight was purchased in October of 1965 by Arthur Sweatt of Windham. Sweatt is well known in the Lowell area, as he was a familiar figure in the Lowell business community until 1964. Long interested in the "jugheads" as trotters and pacers are sometimes referred to, he purchased his first horse in 1964 and today has a three horse stable. Time Clipper and Clipper Time are training at Spring Garden Ranch in DeLeon Springs, Florida, where they are handled by veteran trainer Quentin McKenney, assisted by former Lowell High track ace Ron McArthur of Centralville. Time Clipper was somewhat of a sensation at Rockingham last spring, winning four of his first five starts. This son of Right Time out of the Cardinal Prince mare Miss Emma Cardinal ended up the year with earnings in excess of $8,500. Clipper Time is an unraced daughter of Ohio Time, picked up by Sweatt this fall at the Delaware, Ohio standardbreed sale. These two should be on the Rock scene in Mid March. The third horse is the veteran pacer Direct Flight, who is being prepped in the north for the early part of the Rockingham meet. Direct Flight had five wins, four seconds, and three thirds in twenty six starts in 1968. This was accomplished after a late start as he was injured when going over the fence March 8 during a pre-race warmup mile. A rein came loose on the outside of the horse, and for Arthur Sweatt who was warming up the horse it became a ride of a lifetime as the horse circled the track several times with no control over him. The jog cart was continually scraping the hub rail, finally caught and horse and driver ended up in the infield. This laid the tough old campaigner up for another month and he didn't get to start until April 10.
Suffolk Downs late fall meets seem to suit this grandson of Billy Direct the best. In 20 starts on the East Boston oval since being acquired by Sweatt, Direct Flight has won nine races and picked up sixteen purse checks. Many of the wins have come from tough trips being parked out a good share of the race. This fall he drew the outside post position in four of his five starts. He is an easy horse to get along with around the barn and is a great favorite with the youngsters. Several local harness fans had the opportunity to jog him while he was training last summer at the Richardson stock farm in Pelham. When his racing days are over he should make a fine pet for some young horse lover."
Derek Saffie is an avid Windham historian who enjoys researching and sharing his collection with all those interested in the history of the New England town.