Hello fellow Berlinites. Probably never in the history of Berlin up to 1898, had the observance of Memorial Day been more patriotically or more sacredly observed than this one. The virtue and respect shown our dead soldiers by the fine Grand Army of the Republic, other local organizations, as well as the public, was a fitting tribute to those who had laid down their lives to uphold this nation's honor.
At this time, when our country was at war (Spanish-American) and the spirit of liberty for an oppressed people, pervading the true one American heart and the sad remembrance of those gallant boys of the USS Maine, who yielded up their lives, the tribute to the day and location seemed all the more in keeping. This war was started in April and ended unofficially with a cease-fire signed in August of 1898.
On Wednesday, June 8, 1898, an immense landslide occurred near the height of land in Dixville Notch, which filled and blocked the road to any traveling at once. It was caused by a severe thunderstorm and cloudburst during the evening.
Thursday morning, as a party approached the height of land, they saw the road completely blocked by rocks, trees and dirt, which had come down hundreds of feet onto the highway below, completely obstructing travel. The slide was about 200 feet long and 25 feet deep in places.
Authorities put a large force to work at once clearing the road, as this was considered the only way to reach the great fishing country of the Upper Magalloway and was much traveled at this time of the year. It was hoped that no one was passing through the notch at the time of this slide.
Dixville Notch is known to have lost profiles and high ledges because of the severity of the slides that have taken place here during the course of its lifetime. At one time in the 1800's there was a profile there called “The Old Man of the Mountain Dixville Notch” and it had a resemblance to the profile that once stood in Franconia Notch that we referred to as “The Great Stone Face”.
In the beginning of June, 1898, the contract for a new school building at the corners of Willard, State and Pine streets was awarded by the building committee to Robert Snodgrass, who at once started getting material on the ground to commence work on the same, as soon as John Stuart completed his labors on the foundation. This school would eventually be called Marston.
As summer rolled along in 1898, the celebration of the Fourth of July was considered also a very credible affair. Sunday had hardly merged into Monday, before the shriek of whistles, the roar of the cannon, along with the exasperating firecracker, the clanging of the bells of high and low degree and the yell of the small boy awoke Berlin to the realization that Independence Day had arrived in this city about five minutes early.
During this holiday in 1898, there was a parade with all sorts of floats, bands, a horrible's group, field sports, hose reel contest and more, as Berlin's grand celebration was considered its best ever held so far.
In last week's story I mentioned a place called Chandler's Inn which once stood in Dummer, New Hampshire and had a fine picture of what was considered the halfway point and resting area on the trip from Berlin to Errol. This must have been a well run a hostelry, as I read about it many times in the newspapers during these earlier years.
On Sunday, August 21, 1898 about 50 people took dinner at Chandler's Inn and most of them were composed of Berlin residents with their friends. I can just imagine the beautiful ride up through Milan and past Pontook with a group of locals in horse driven buggies back in these days of wild country and dirt roads.
Landlord Chandler, as usual served one of his excellent dinners, for which the house had gained such a high reputation and the party did all ample justice to the courses served. Several enjoyed a boat ride on the river across the road and gathered some beautiful pond lilies, while others strolled about the grounds and enjoyed the fine views presented on all sides.
The broad inter-vale expanse with the forest and mountains in the distance, together with the wide and noiseless flowing of the Androscoggin River a short distance from the lodge, all tended toward making this scene a most delightful one. Any party that desired an enjoyable drive, a fine meal and a pleasant day's outing, found a trip to this retreat full of interest and much pleasure back in these days.
As this summer was coming to an end, two sad mill accidents claimed the lives of Berlin men. On August 28, 1898, Martin Lydon, an employee of Mill Number Six of the International Paper Company was fatally burned by bursting of a valve to one of the digesters that he was opening around midnight on this mentioned day.
He was taken to his home where he passed away about six hours later from his injuries. Peter Mathieson, an assistant workman, who was also nearby at the time of the accident was badly, but not seriously scalded.
Mr. Lydon was a faithful employee of this company and his death was a sad blow to his wife and four small children. He was 40 years of age.
Robert McHuthchins, an employee of the Burgess Sulfite Fiber Company, met with sudden death on Monday, August 29, 1898 while at work. He was employed in the wood room and in some manner got caught between the carrier cable and the sprocket instantly taking his life.
His body was not found until another workman who was sent to ascertain why the cable did not start, as it was disconnected during the accident. Robert was 50 years old and left one son, two brothers and a sister to mourn him.
Finally, our public schools got a boost in this growing city, when the Marston School opened for the accommodation of pupils in September of 1898. At this time it only took in the fourth and fifth grades under the tutorship of Miss Agnes Campbell and Miss Jeanie Rich, both of whom were extremely popular and experienced educators in this city.
The new building was a handsome and commodious two-story wooden structure with four large schoolrooms, four teachers' rooms and a large basement. This basement was outfitted with closets and storage and had a concrete bottom, making a fine play area for the children.
This new modern school was named in honor of Henry Marston, this city's first mayor, who presented this educational institution with a beautiful large flag to be used on all public occasions. The total cost of the structure was $10,000
Additions were eventually put on as needed and by 1906 the school was able to handle grades one through eight. In February of 1906, it burned to the ground while in session without loss of life. The second Marston school was built in the same year, on the same spot and still stands today (2016).
I will continue with the year 1898 in my next writing.