While the annual boat parade on Cobbett's Pond has survived changing times over the past several decades, one related tradition has not. The inaugural Cobbett's Pond beauty contest was held in 1958, and quickly became a popular event in the community. Miss Cobbett's Pond was chosen by a panel of judges at a dinner and beauty contest held at Town Hall. Prior to the dinner, all of the contestants participated in a parade where their family, friends, and fellow Cobbett's Pond residents had their first chance to catch a glimpse of all the candidates before the title of Miss Cobbett's Pond was bestowed upon a single young woman a few days later. While the contest was only open to residents and campers of Cobbett's Pond, the committee included residents from surrounding towns; during the 1960 contest the head of the committee in charge of soliciting entries was a resident of Nashua. A committee comprised of local teenagers was tasked with canvassing the cottages and homes along Cobbett's Pond and registering girls between the ages of 12 and 18 as candidates in the annual contest. One lucky entrant, after being crowned Miss Cobbett's Pond, had the honor of being escorted around the pond during the annual boat parade, usually held a couple weeks later. Wearing a crown and riding on a small, decorated motorboat, the first Miss Cobbett's Pond, Marie Chadwick, is shown in the photograph above, taken during the 1958 boat parade.
The long history of Cobbett's Pond is filled with many happy memories made by residents and vacationers alike. However, the pond's history is not without its darker moments; there have been accidents and drownings throughout its history. While these incidents have, fortunately, been scarce, they are nonetheless a significant part of the pond's story. Not all of these stories of misfortune and accidents have ended in tragedy though. On Tuesday, September 1, 1953, Carl Church Jr, a swim instructor at Nashua's public pool, was enjoying his day off at a beach on Cobbett's Pond. Church, a strong swimmer, had ventured out to raft where he had been sitting when he heard a cry for help. A young girl who had just recently learned to swim had been attempting to make her way to the raft when she became tired. Not being able to complete her trip to the raft or make her way back to the beach, her father swam to her, but was pushed under by his daughter's panic. Church moved quickly, separated the pair, and helped the girl to the raft. After resting for a bit, Church helped the young girl back to the beach; her father had been able to save himself once Church separated him from his daughter. In the following decades safety requirements became more stringent, requiring life guards and other precautions for the public beaches still remaining on the shores of Cobbett's Pond.
George Seavey could be called the lumber baron of Windham. With mill operations and lumber interests in town, he dominated the lumber industry in town at the turn of the twentieth century. As a successful businessman, his name is not scarce in the index of the county register of deeds during late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the deeds are commonplace land transactions, but in 1902 one particular deed attracted the interest of area newspapers. On November 14, 1902, George Seavey traded 20,000 feet of "white pine planks loaded on a car at Windham Junction" for a 68 acre plot of land in town. In receipt of the 20,000 feet of wood planks were Jacob Cook of Minneapolis, and numerous heirs of William H. Lunt, of Windham, who were spread out throughout the country. With over three dozen individuals involved, what would otherwise have been a short deed, spans three pages; nearly one page is filled with the signatures of Lunt's heirs. The land was located in the vicinity of the Junction, where Seavey operated his business, and was bounded by the Manchester & Lawrence Railroad.
Learn more about George Seavey
Paul Ray Myers was hardly the only farmer in Windham raising chickens in 1939. Myers was in the egg business and he primarily sold his product through the New Hampshire Egg Auction in Derry. According to "Images of America: Derry," the auction company processed millions of eggs a year during its 11 year history, having operated from 1930 to 1941. One of their egg candlers, Roger Beliveau, sorted an almost unbelievable 90 million eggs between 1930 and 1934. It was not until after he had candled the 90 million eggs that Beliveau discovered his first, and the company's first, four-yoke egg in 1934. While the odds of finding one of these eggs has been estimated at 1:11-billion, this four-yolk egg would not be the only one of his career. Just five years after his first discovery, he made another in June of 1939. After candling a three-ounce egg and noting an appearance of four yolks, Beliveau carefully broke open the egg and discovered it contained four yolks, but an average amount of egg white. The hen that laid the egg was one of Paul Myers' brood and had been hatched in New Hampshire several months earlier on January 10. According to a period article by The Portsmouth Herald, two-yoke and three-yoke eggs were not uncommon in the state during the summer months, but the discovery of a four-yoke egg was almost unheard of. A census of agriculture statistics in New Hampshire reported over 175 million eggs being produced in New Hampshire in 1939, meaning a single four-yoke egg would be expected to be found in 63 times that production level, and certainly would not have been anticipated in a batch of just 175 million eggs, especially when one had been found just five years prior. When considering the just under nine million eggs produced in Rockingham county that year, and the even fewer eggs produced in Windham, the odds stack up even greater against a four-yoke egg being not only discovered, but originating from Windham
With nearly three hundred years of history, odds have it that Windham has been home to its share of less-than-exemplary citizens. One such citizen was Eben Woodbury. Not much is recorded about Woodbury or when he first turned to a life of crime. If any of his neighbors in Windham were not aware of his criminal past, they may have been alerted to his activities when his exploits earned him a brief mention in The Portsmouth Herald. On April 28, 1899, Woodbury was arrested at his farm in Windham on robbery charges. Accused of multiple house robberies in Nashua, he was brought to the city after his arrest to stand trial. A reporter for The Portsmouth Herald uncovered Woodbury's "reputation for being a sneak thief" who had previously spent six years in prison; a four-year stretch at the Massachusetts state prison and a short two years at the New Hampshire state prison. At the time of his arrest in Windham it was alleged Woodbury may have been responsible for a string of robberies in Manchester, Lawrence, Haverhill, and Lowell. If the allegations are any indication of the time he dedicated to his sideline, Woodbury may have spent just as much time travelling between states to burglarize homes as he did farming.
When one thinks of the community of Windham in the 1930s, they are likely picturing idyllic country scenes, summers at Cobbett's Pond, and a simpler way of life. There is probably not even a remote possibility one would picture the less-than-pleasant events of Depression era Windham, such as accidents on Cobbett's Pond, or even a kidnapping at Searles School. According to The Portsmouth Herald, on October 24, 1932 a Mrs. Josephine Stutz of Boston appeared before a police court in Portsmouth having been charged with kidnapping her niece from Searles School in Windham. Just two weeks earlier Mrs. Stutz, who also went by Mrs. Jarrow, had gone to Searles School and took her 15-year-old niece, Sophie Jaroskepski from her class. Jaroskepski, who lived in the Canobie Lake district, had previously written her aunt to express her desire to live with her aunt in Boston. Despite having been told by the Rockingham County Solicitor that she could not take her teenage niece out of New Hampshire without the consent of the girl's mother, Mrs. Stutz ignored the warning and brought Sophie back to Boston with her. When the pair arrived at the aunt's home on Commonwealth Avenue Mrs. Stutz informed her niece that she must abandon her surname and instead go by the name Sophie Jarrow. Likely alerted by Sophie's mother, the Boston police began searching for Mrs. Stutz and Sophie. About a day after the kidnapping Mrs. Stutz learned that the police were looking for her and turned herself in at a Boston police station and informed the officers she would return the girl to her New Hampshire home, which she promptly did. When Mrs. Stutz was eventually brought before the police court she was ordered to be held on $200 bail to later appear before a grand jury. Unfortunately it seems the conclusion of the case did not garner the same publicity as the kidnapping, as the newspaper lacks any note of the outcome of the trial.
The map shown above was produced in the 1950s by the proprietors of Hartley's Barn, and was reproduced for advertisements promoting the establishment. Included on the map are attractions such as the Windham Playhouse, Mason's Store, and Cobbett's Pond. Unlike a standard road map, this map shows only the main roads, giving an out-of-town tourist the most simplistic directions possible to visit the most popular attractions and useful sites. With the addition of Rockingham Park and Benson's Farm, it really includes something for everyone.
According to "Rural Oasis," the first service stations appeared in Windham by the mid-1930s. In 1935 there were three garages, but by 1943 only one of the original three remained open. While the one station that remained open, which was owned by Leon Meserve, operated without any real competition for several years, this changed when Howard Hemeon opened Castle View Service Station on Range Road, at the intersection of Route 111 and Route 111A. Howard and his wife Rose purchased the Federal period brick home that is now the Windham Restaurant in 1945. Shortly after moving in, Howard opened his service station next door to his home. Evidently the Hemeons did not make much of a success of their automotive garage, as they sold their home in 1949, along with the garage. The garage was eventually rented to Ernie Alix, who operated his own service station on the premises, until the building was sold again, and he relocated his business further down Range Road.
While Leonard Allison Morrison is known by most as Windham's greatest historian, he was also an avid publisher and author on many works of history and genealogy. After writing "The History of Windham, New Hampshire: 1719 - 1883," Morrison published several more works including:
Not only did the Salem Coca-Cola bottling plant bottle the ever popular Coca-Cola line of beverages, the facility also produced beverages customized for the local market. One such beverage was "Canobie Club" soda. With a name that was synonymous with wonderful memories of summers spent at Canobie Lake, there would certainly have been a demand for the product. In cities across the United States anyone could get a Coca-Cola, but only in the Salem and Windham area could you get a Canobie Club "Birch Beer" or a "Lemon & Lime" soda. To tout its local connection, every bottle label displayed the headline "Made in the Hills of Old New Hampshire." Unlike its other soda counterparts, the soda was marketed as a great beverage for the health-conscious with the slogan: "Its purity renders it supreme as a healthful and satisfying drink." To stand out from the rather plain labels of other sodas, each bottle was given a brightly colored label with a large graphic of two young men rowing a canoe on Canobie Lake. Even the cork-lined bottle caps were printed with the image. Evidently there was not as much demand for the "Canobie Club" line as the producers had imagined because the line was likely discontinued by the 1950s. Salem Coca-Cola went on to continue its bottling of more standard Coca-Cola products.
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.