This week in Concord History

Feb. 18, 2000: New Hampshire native Laurence Craigie will be among four air and space pioneers inducted this year into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Monitor reports. Born in Concord, Craigie earned his Army Air Service wings in 1924 and went on to hold key positions in aircraft testing and development. He saw combat duty in World War II and retired from a NATO command in 1955 as a lieutenant general. He died in 1994.

Feb. 18, 1842: The radical and conservative factions of the Democratic Party brawl in Concord’s town hall over control of a party caucus. An observer, Henry McFarland, writes that “seats and desks were smashed, wigs flew in the dusty air, and bloody noses were seen on most respectable faces. There was a great uproar and a clatter of flying feet, combatants chasing their foes as far down as Centre Street.”

Feb. 18, 1869: Fire destroys Concord’s Columbian Hotel.

Feb. 18, 1974: Archibald Cox, the special Watergate prosecutor fired four months earlier by President Nixon, receives a hero’s welcome at St. Paul’s School, where he graduated in 1930. Speaking of the possibility of impeachment, Cox says that by his definition, to meet the constitutional test of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” an offense would have to be “a major crime against the body politic.”

Feb. 19, 2002: The Diocese of Manchester holds a lunch meeting in Concord for all the Catholic priests in the state. Although no agenda has been set by Bishop John McCormack, most priests interviewed said they expect him to address the news that has shaken clergy and parishioners alike: Fourteen priests, whose name the diocese released last Friday, have been accused of sexual misconduct with children over the last 30 years.

Feb. 19, 2000: Concord wins the Class L wrestling title – but has to share the crown with Timberlane and Salem. A pin in the final match of the day should have given the Crimson Tide the title outright, but the team is penalized one point for premature celebration, and that leaves all three teams with the same score.

Feb. 20, 1772: Philip Carrigain is born in Concord. His father is a local physician. Philip will graduate from Dartmouth, practice law in Concord and become New Hampshire’s secretary of state. Chosen in part for his distinguished handwriting, in 1816 he will produce the first map of the state to show town boundaries.

Feb. 20, 1996: Pat Buchanan wins the New Hampshire primary, defeating Bob Dole by one percentage point. The Monitor’s headline: “Pat’s peak is Dole’s downfall.”

Feb. 22, 2002: At the Winter Games of Salt Lake City, the U.S. hockey team loses 3-2 to Canada in the gold medal game. Concord native and team member Tara Mounsey says, “It was difficult, but it doesn’t take away from what we’ve done this year.”

Feb. 21, 2000: More than 500 students join Concord’s Bob Tewksbury at Beaver Meadow Elementary School to celebrate the joys of reading. A former major league pitcher, Tewksbury tells the youngsters he used books to help fill the down time between starts. Reading, he says, “engages not only our minds but our hearts.”

Feb. 21, 1968: The death of 21-year-old Army Sergeant Ronald D. Roach of Concord is confirmed. He had been missing for nine days since coming under mortar fire in Hue. Roach was the most valuable player on the Concord High hockey team in 1964, the year he graduated. His father Arthur says his son believed in his military mission: “His letters always said we must help South Vietnam.”

Feb. 22, 2002: After a six-month national search that yielded 70 applicants, Concord’s own Fire Division Commander Chris Pope is named Concord’s new fire chief.

Feb. 22, 1997: The temperature in Concord hits 67 degrees, making this the warmest February day of the 20th century.

Feb. 22, 1912: The reorganized Abbot & Downing Co. has orders for 45 express wagons in addition to passenger wagons for Yellowstone Park. This assures work for 50 men. “We have made a start,” says Samuel Eastman, the Concord businessman who purchased the failing company 5½ months ago.

Feb. 22, 1854: Concord’s New Hampshire Patriot is the only Democratic paper in the state to support the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The act holds that if a territory’s electorate approves of it, slavery will be allowed in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory. Editor William Butterfield writes that the act upholds the principles “which deny to Congress the right to legislate slavery into or out of any territory.”

Feb. 23, 1799: Seven men hold the first Masonic meeting in Concord at Gale’s Anchor Tavern.

Feb. 24, 1853: Concord’s “Old John” Virgin, a veteran of the War of 1812, is found frozen in his house on Sugar Ball. Virgin boasted all his life of having fought at Tippecanoe with William Henry Harrison. An invalid, he had “an ulcerous sore on one of his legs, which was very offensive,” according to a contemporary account. Virgin earned a pension of $96 a year and was determined to live on it. When he came to town, his “loud patriotic harangues always attracted attention.” He had no friends because he would have none; he lived alone and died alone. Only the sexton attended his funeral.

Feb. 24, 1942: With tires strictly rationed and therefore dear, the Monitor reports that a gang of tire thieves has been operating in Manchester and Concord. Raymond K. Perkins, the city solicitor, warns that he will seek the maximum penalty of one year in the county house of corrections for anyone convicted of stealing a tire.

Author: Keith Testa

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