Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life in Berlin, New Hampshire at the turn of the 20th Century – Selected Journal Entries from 1914

Before I begin, I'd like to call your attention to the slide show near the bottom of this post. For the most part, it contains photos taken in Berlin in 1914. As indicated below, many of these images complement journal entries quoted throughout this post.

In my March 16th post A Glimpse of Eleanor Watson, I mentioned that Arthur Watson and Eleanor Foss were married in Portland, Maine on September 27, 1913. Eleanor and Arthur were married in the house where she grew up, which is seen in the photo below. This photo shows a 4th of July celebration in the early 1900s.

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Although I don’t have a 1913 diary to report details about their marriage, I do have Eleanor’s 1914 diary (actually, it’s a notepad) from which I will pull out various activities of their first year of married life together in Berlin, NH.

Eleanor’s 1914 Diary [notebook]

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The following photos of Arthur and Eleanor were taken a year after their wedding by The Hallie Wilson Studio in Berlin, NH.

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Apropos of Eleanor’s photo, the entry from her diary on Wednesday, October 7, 1914 states:

“Helene [a close friend of Eleanor’s from Portland] ironed and I cooked and after one [1:00 p.m.] went to have pictures taken in wedding dress …”

Arthur and Eleanor, shortly after their marriage, rented their first home, located at 768 Third Ave in Berlin, NH. Arthur, who had attended Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, found employment with the Y.M.C.A. in Berlin. Eleanor took a picture of the Y.M.C.A building where Arthur worked in 1914 (See slide show Berlin, New Hampshire in 1914 near the bottom of this post). I looked online to confirm that this was the Y.M.C.A. building in Berlin and finally came across a postcard depicting the same building which was labeled “The Community Club - Berlin, NH.”

Arthur at Gould Academy, standing fourth from left

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On Saturday, January 10, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Put the house in order and did Sat. work. Got ready to change my dress at about 3:00 o’clock and heard Arthur’s mother and father [Anna & Laban Watson] coming. Came over on electrics to spend Sun. with us. I made Johnny Cakes [recipe below] for supper.”

The “electrics” my grandmother referred to was a trolley with overhead wiring. These cars were operated by the Berlin Street Railway, driven at a speed of 10 mph and ran every 20 minutes.

The Berlin Street Railway was built in 1902. It connected the two villages of Berlin Mills and Berlin Falls and extended to Gorham, making a total length of seven and a half miles. The service was discontinued in the mid 1930s.

Photo from the Bill Volkmer Collection

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On Sunday, January 11, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Arthur had to work half a day so got up at 6:30. I got up and soon Mr. & Mrs. [Watson] were up. Mr. W [Watson] went over to Y.M.C.A and came back with Arthur at noon. Had roast mutton and mashed potato for dinner [midday meal]. Popped corn and made puffed rice candy and had lunch in eve.”

Anna and Laban Watson at home

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On Tuesday, January 13, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Coldest yet 28 below. I cooked in A.M. Arthur froze the end of his ears where the cap could not reach. Wrote letters in P.M. Too cold to venture out. I beat at the rubber game of pitch in eve. 32 below at Leslie Wights.”

For my grandmother, daily life in 1914 revolved around cooking, cleaning house, sewing, hiking, taking and developing photos, and socializing. Her daily activities included, as usually noted in her diary, a list of what she cooked and what chores she did around the house. But keeping in touch with family and friends was paramount to Eleanor then and throughout her entire life. I can remember visiting her each summer for a one week stay and spending at least half of our time visiting relatives and acquaintances. I have her to thank today for my interest in reconnecting with our past.

Eleanor came from a family of two brothers and four sisters in which she was the youngest sister. Arthur had two sisters Edith & Josephine and a younger brother Ralph and family relations living locally. So, needless to say, there were frequent visitors from both families staying or visiting with them in their home on Third Ave.

On Sunday, April 12, 1914, Easter, Eleanor writes:

“Up at about 8:30 or 9:00 & Arthur’s fire was out in the kitchen. Lovely warm morning but a blizzard of rain & snow in P.M. Never saw larger flakes come so fast. Uncle Will & Earle over so we started to make ice-cream. Had oyster stew & they stayed till 6:00 – In eve we finished ice-cream (banana).”

Uncle Will was William M. Watson, the son of Abel and Cordelia Watson from Randolph, NH. William married Lizzie S. [Wheeler - from Shelburne, NH] in 1895. They lived in Gorham, NH with a son named Earle, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. William was employed by the Berlin Mills Company.

On Friday, May 1, 1914, Eleanor’s older sister Frances and her husband Stanley were visiting and Eleanor writes:

“Very cold & ground frozen in A.M. Pleasant but windy. Made 2 pies & pudding. Salmon Scallop & Johnny Cake for dinner. Stan, Frances & I went to walk up toward Y.M.C.A after dinner. Had fritters for supper. Went to movies at Albert in eve.”

Albert Theatre

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I have all my grandmother’s recipes, which she kept in a wooden recipe box. I had no idea what Salmon Scallop was, until I looked in her recipe box and found it along with a recipe for Johnny Cakes of which she had several variations:

Salmon & Scallop and Johnny Cake Recipes

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On Sunday, May 3, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Up early to get ready for Randolph. Roasted pork for dinner. Boys [Arthur & Stan] went to spring & climbed Mt. Forest. Went to R.[Randolph] at 1:40. Lovely warm day. Open cars. Mts. beautiful. Went up to falls. Had hot biscuits & [maple] syrup for supper & some sugar on snow. Back at about 9.”

See slide show Berlin, New Hampshire in 1914 (near the bottom of this post) for photos of Mt. Forest taken by Eleanor. And, the figure below, for an aerial view of Mt. Forest today.

Aerial view of Mount Forest today

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The top of Mount Forest is approximately 2/3 mile (as the crow flies) from Third Avenue. This aerial view of Mount Forest and Berlin is a screen shot of a 3D map that was created using the Microsoft Bing Maps Bird’s Eye option.

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The Christian faith was very important to my grandmother throughout her lifetime. She attended Congregational services at an early age and continued doing so well into her 90s.

On Sunday, May 10, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Very warm – Up so as to go to church & roasted walking there. [the minister of the church at that time was Mr. Moore] Read papers & Arthur read all day to me & while I got dinner & after dinner. I played [my grandmother always had a piano in her home and played often at church] & sang some.”

On Thursday, May 14, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Wrote to Helene & Frances. Put away winter clothes & sprinkled to iron, used electric iron. Had a nap and dress to go to Congo. C. E. [Christian Education] supper. Went to town for Arthur’s laundry & back at 5:00 so he could dress. Met Mrs. Hatch & Mrs. Burbank at about 6:00 – Met many people & had a nice supper & entertainment – came home between showers.”

On Thursday, September 17, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“All up quite early & nothing much to do. I cleaned up my room. We all sat on back porch to sun ourselves, girls [Marie, her sister, and Edna, a relative] wrote & sewed. After dinner went to walk and took pictures. Arthur is working on new theatre [The Princess] job. In eve developed pictures & no luck. Printed some, 1 and a half doz. for girls & better [halves]. About 9:00 alarm rang in & Arthur went but nothing much.”

Marie (left) and Edna

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On Sunday, September, 27, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Our anniversary – After breakfast made orange sherbet & got ready for boys [husbands of Marie and Edna]. Rainy when Arthur went to station. Had dinner started when boys came. Snowed & hailed & then sun shone & we took pictures of us on davenport. We went to station for 4:00. Rained again. Snow on mts. We stuck 5 doz. pictures in our book [photo album from which these pictures came]. Had sherbet and went to bed about 10:00. Cold-cold”

Here is the picture of Arthur and Eleanor’s Anniversary party in 1914. From left to right are Marie F. Hutchinson, Paul Hutchinson, Edna F. Tibbetts, Will Tibbetts and my grandmother Eleanor. The piano, which can be seen on the far left, was sent to Eleanor by her father earlier that year.

Photo taken by Arthur with Kodak Junior, Model A

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No. 1 Kodak Junior, Model A

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Eleanor’s camera has a 1909 U.S. Patent Office mark.

Note: The 1914 price of this camera was $7.50 (approx). That amount is about $170 in today’s dollar, after adjusting for inflation using the online calculator shown below.

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On Saturday, November 7, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Lovely A.M. I ironed & did up work. Marion [Boothman], Frances [Wood], & Harold [Boothman] [n.b., pictures of these individuals are seen in the slide show] over about 10:15 & I went to Prof. Morel’s with them [Harold was taking Cornet lessons from Prof. Morel]. They came back to dinner & we four went to Princess. They went on 3:15 train & I stayed to see [the silent film] ‘Virginian’”

{Click on the image above to see pictures of this and other Berlin theaters of the era.}

The story about a Wyoming school teacher, Molly Wood, who is attracted to a cowboy known as "The Virginian" was Cecil B. DeMille's third directorial effort.

{click on this link for more information}

On Friday, December 25, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Lovely Xmas day. Arthur up to help on chores. Did up necessary work. Got the tree in & decorated. Had dandy dinner of chicken etc. Arthur & I drove to Gorham at Uncle Emery’s & went to Berlin. Back and got Steve & nearly froze going home. 9 below. Mr. Wood & girls [see slide show for photos of Wood’s girls from Randolph] up to tree in eve. I helped take off presents. Had a treat.”

Uncle Emery is Laban Watson’s older brother who was a mill worker living in Gorham and would have been 69 years old in 1914.

And finally, on Thursday, December 31, 1914, Eleanor writes:

“Sunny. Read Portland & Berlin papers [she mentioned reading The Berlin Reporter in several entries]. Packed & did necessary things. Got the noon train for Ran. [Randolph]. Arthur went to Ravine House & I went to Lodge [Coldbrook] from App. [Appalachia Station]. I crocheted some while others sewed. In eve all but Mr. & Mrs. W. [Watson] went to give Coulters a surprise party. Coffee & cake for refreshments. 41 present. Nice little home.”

For a picture of the Ravine House and Appalachia Station, see my earlier post titled Ravine House – Randolph, New Hampshire near the bottom of this blog.

Berlin, New Hampshire in 1914 - Slideshow

{A number of additional viewing options become available when you click on this slide show}

Note: The postcards rendered in this post plus other interesting details about Berlin, NH (e.g., mills, churches, etc.) can be found at the following website:

{click on this link for more information}


Margaret said...

I really enjoyed reading this. My grandparents settled there, on Willard St., in the late 1890's. So may of the names mentioned are ones that I recognized, especially the Boothman's. They were good friends of my mom. She taught at the "one room school house" in Randolph.

Thanks for the memories.
Margaret Walker Hussey

Marcia Gulesian said...

Thanks for sharing your family ties. I would like to hear more about your mother and grandparents, if you are interested. You can hear more about Rebecca Boothman's life growing up by clicking the Shared Life Stories - NHPR link under the North Country Links heading located on the right-hand side of this blog.

Marcia (