May 16, 1893: After a sensational trial in the killing of a young woman who jilted him, Frank C. Almy, also known as George Abbott, is executed at the state prison. He is the ninth man hanged in New Hampshire and the last before capital punishment is repealed. It will be resumed in 1916. The execution is botched, the rope slipping over Almy’s head as he falls. Over his protests, he is quickly hanged again – and efficiently. There are rumors afterward that Almy’s body has been stolen, but Warden George W. Colbath assures the public that he knows precisely where it is buried.
May 17, 1851: For a second time, Concord voters refuse to turn their town into a city. The vote is 582 against and 139 in favor. Two years later, they will change their minds.
May 17, 1943: A bill is introduced in the New Hampshire House to dump all conscientious objectors “on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.”
May 18, 1860: In Concord, a 100-gun salute is fired in response to news that the Republicans have nominated Abraham Lincoln. “They were very feeble reports, the caliber of the guns corresponding with that of the candidates,” reports the city’s Democratic newspaper, the New Hampshire Patriot.
May 18, 1861: As Concord residents throng “on either side of the column with cheers and huzzas” on a Saturday afternoon, the First New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment parades through the streets. It will leave for the front in a week.
May 18, 1977: Three men escape from the state prison by sawing through the kitchen roof. They join two killers on the lam, bringing to five the number of prisoners who have escaped from maximum security in the last five days. Three of the five are murderers. The warden declines to talk to reporters.
May 19, 1780: This day becomes known as the “Dark Day” in central New Hampshire. A local history reports: “The shades of night fell at noon and a deep gloom settled on the people, many fearing that the end of the world was coming. This darkness continued for several days and was undoubtedly caused by forest fires in the northern part of the state and in Canada.”
May 19, 1944: Mrs. Charles A. Morin of Monroe Street in Concord hopes a new postal policy aimed at improving communication with prisoners-of-war in Germany will bring word from her son. Lt. Antoine Robert Morin, a pilot, was shot down in February, and his mother received this note, dated Feb. 28: “Dear Folks: Am prisoner of war in Germany. Well and safe. No need for worry. Will write as often as possible. We’ll be together after victory. Will see you all in six months. Bob.” Mrs. Walker has not heard from her son since.
May 20, 1927: Filing his nationally syndicated column from Concord, humorist Will Rogers writes: “No attempts at jokes today. A slim, tall, bashful, smiling American boy is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, where no lone human being has ever ventured before. He is being prayed for to every kind of Supreme Being that has a following. If he is lost it will be the most universally regretted loss we ever had.” The next day, that American boy, Charles A. Lindbergh, will land the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris.
May 20, 1983: A crowd of women gather at a public hearing in Concord to describe the sorrows of alimony, child support and high legal fees as the state contemplates reforms to divorce laws. “We have to start with the girls and tell them this business about living happily ever after – that is a fantasy. It’s a fairy tale. They must face the world knowing they’re responsible for their own support,” says Susan Caldwell, head of the state Commission on the Status of Women.
May 21, 1913: The Legislature passes Gov. Robert P. Bass’s bill to compensate inmates at the state prison for their labor. Part of the small wage will go directly to the prisoners’ dependents or, if they have none, will be set aside until their release.
May 21, 1941: Red Rolfe, the Pride of Penacook and the third baseman for the New York Yankees, triples in the 10th inning to drive in the winning run in a 5-4 victory over defending American League champion Detroit. It is Rolfe’s fourth hit of the day. His teammate, Joe DiMaggio, has two hits, running his modest hitting streak to seven games.
May 22, 1879: The Monitor editorializes against a fountain in the State House plaza: “The fountain continues to squirt water all over those who have the temerity to walk in its vicinity, as in the days of yore. Its location ought to be changed.” In 1914, it is discarded to make room for the statue of Franklin Pierce.
May 22, 2001: Concord Litho Group, one of the world’s largest printers of greeting cards, has laid off 31 of its 231 employees, the Monitor reports. The elimination of jobs is expected to be permanent.