This Week In Concord History

Dec. 30: 2000: The season’s first Nor’easter drops more than two feet of snow on central New Jersey before arriving in New Hampshire. Concord’s official total will be only 6 inches, but towns to the south will report much more.

Dec. 30, 1869: A Grant Club is organized in Concord. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is “the people’s general, and will be the people’s president,” the Monitor asserts.

Dec. 30, 1926: Allen and Amoret Hollis deed Concord the land for “a playground and athletic facility for the citizens of the City of Concord.” They also donate a plaque for what will be known as Memorial Field, in honor of the city’s dead from the late World War. Among those who died during the war were the Hollises’ son, Allen Jr., and nephew, Henry Hollis Jr.

Dec. 31, 1999: Despite a bomb threat, First Night celebrations wrap up without incident. Enthusiasm, however, is hard to find. “It doesn’t feel like New Year’s Eve,” one would-be Concord reveler laments. “There’s not a lot going on,” another adds. “And with no snow, it’s even worse.”

Dec. 31, 1866: Fire burns the roof and destroys machinery at the Penacook Mill. Though it is so cold that the firemen’s clothing freezes, a horse-drawn steam fire engine speeds at 30 mph from Concord and saves much of the mill building. The mill’s 250 employees are thus out of work only briefly.

Dec. 31, 1869: A group of young men from Concord gathers to greet the New Year. “One raised his glass and pledged upon his honor as a man, that not a single drop of intoxicating liquor should pass his lips in 1870.” Impressed, another poured the party’s whiskey down the drain. The Monitor approved, reporting: “These men have made a good beginning for 1870.”

Dec. 31, 1984: Concord holds its first “First Night” celebration.

Dec. 31, 1984: Bernhard Goetz turns himself in to the Concord police, confessing that it was he who shot four teenagers in a New York subway nine days before. Police Chief David Walchak is at a loss as to why Goetz came to New Hampshire. Between the shootings and his surrender, Goetz spent several days in the state, staying in motels at North Sutton, Keene and Sunapee.

Dec. 31, 1844: Town hall figures show that there were 113 deaths in Concord in 1844. Fifty of the dead were children under 10.

Jan. 1, 2000: About 50 people from the state and the private sector huddle in an emergency operation center in Concord, ready to respond to whatever havoc the dreaded Y2K computer glitch may bring. To their relief, the rollover of the calendar passes without incident.

Jan. 1, 1819: The Phenix Hotel, built by Abel Hutchins, opens on Main Street in Concord as “a house of entertainment.”

Jan. 2, 2002: Members of the Republican-led New Hampshire House leave little doubt about their interest in controlling global warming. Without debate, they pass the first bill in the nation to address four key air pollutants – including carbon dioxide, the gas blamed for climate change.

Jan. 2, 2001: James Duggan is sworn in as an associate justice of the state Supreme Court. Of his new colleague, Chief Justice David Brock says, “There’s no one who understands the law any more than James Duggan does.”

Jan. 2, 2000: Bill Bradley uses a campaign appearance in Concord to stress the positive tone of his campaign. “I don’t want (people) to vote against Al Gore,” he tells those gathered at the Elks Club, “I want them to vote for Bill Bradley.”

Jan. 2, 1784: The Legislature grants Concord official townhood.

Jan. 2, 1943: The secretary of war informs Catherine A. Pitts of North Spring Street that her son, Captain Thomas A. Pitts, has been killed in action in Alaska. The captain was a 1927 graduate of UNH.

Jan. 2, 1788: At Concord’s town meeting, townspeople commission Timothy Walker Jr. to lobby the Legislature and neighboring towns for the creation of a new county.

Jan. 2, 1824: After a 36-year fight during which Hopkinton vied with Concord to become the seat of a county that was to be called Kearsarge, the first Merrimack County courthouse opens on its current site.

Jan. 2, 1901: A cabal of legislators, lobbyists and B&M Railroad men begins meetings at the Eagle Hotel to elect a new U.S. senator. Seven days later, they will get their wish when the Legislature votes to oust two-term Sen. William E. Chandler, a critic of powerful railroad interests, in favor of former part-time judge Henry Burnham. “The word went out,” the senator’s biographer wrote, “that Chandler had been run over by the railroad.” Direct election of U.S. senators is still 12 years away.

Jan. 2, 1985: At his arraignment in Concord, suspected subway shooter Bernhard Goetz agrees to go home to New York City and face the charges. Wearing red berets, five members of the Guardian Angels, a group of young people who patrol urban streets to deter crime, attend the proceeding. “If this gentleman sat down, and these kids were bothering him, then we would consider that self-defense and we would praise him,” one of them tells a reporter. “If he pre-meditated, then we would condemn him.”

Jan. 3, 2002: Four years after it razed the state’s school funding system in its landmark Claremont decision, the state Supreme Court debates whether to re-enter the education fray or close the case for good. Lead plaintiff lawyer Andru Volinsky argues the state’s minimum school standards are neither specific, mandatory nor enforceable. Attorney General Philip McLaughlin counters that the court should put Claremont to bed and leave policymaking to the Legislature.

Jan. 3, 2000: Concord Mayor Bill Veroneau opens his fifth term in office with a pledge to explore seriously the possibility of bringing a semi-professional baseball team to the city. Before the fall, the city will announce it has landed just such a franchise: the Concord Quarry Dogs, who will play their 2001 home games at Memorial Field.

Jan. 3, 1942: New Hampshire Prison Warden Charles B. Clarke worries that because of the war, there will be too little steel for the state’s 1943-44 motor vehicle plates. There is plenty of steel for 1942-43 plates; prisoners have already made 35,000 of the 50,000 needed.

Jan. 3, 1852: Visiting Concord, Henry Hubbard slips on the icy walkway on his way to the Eagle Hotel. The fall breaks his left arm. Hubbard will sue the town and win a judgment of $800.

Jan. 3, 1952: The Concord City Council rejects plans for a $1.75 million jet fighter base for the National Guard at Concord Airport. Officials call the plan too disruptive for residents of the Heights.

Jan. 3, 1983: Schools and most state buildings are closed for an official day of mourning as Gov. Hugh Gallen is buried. Hometown friends and family fill a simple wood-and-stone church in Littleton for the funeral Mass. The Rev. Patrick Irwin eulogizes Gallen as a compassionate man who “died hoping the future would be kind” to the less fortunate. Earlier, Gallen was honored in a public memorial service at the State House. More than 1,200 people attended, including former President Jimmy Carter.

Jan. 3, 1985: Bernhard Goetz, the so-called “subway vigilante” who fled New York after shooting four teens and landed in Concord, is to be returned to Manhattan today. Merrimack County jail guard Thomas Barton says Goetz told him: “What happened had to be done, but I’m sorry it happened.”

Jan. 4, 2003: A federal judge has denied Gary Sampson’s plea to escape the death penalty, the Monitor reports. Sampson is accused of killing Robert “Eli” Whitney of Penacook along with two Massachusetts’s men. He will be found guilty in Massachusetts and sentenced to death, the first time the state has issued such a sentence since 1973.

Jan. 4, 2001: Elizabeth McLaughlin, a 101-year-old resident of Concord’s Havenwood-Heritage Heights Retirement Community, gets some extra attention for a day after being invited to the governor’s inaugural address at the State House. “It (was) a day I never expected,” McLaughlin says later. “I’m not an important girl at all.”

Jan. 4, 1950: The temperature in Concord climbs to 68 degrees, making this the warmest January day of the 20th century.

Jan. 4, 1973: Gov. Mel Thomson gets his first term off to a secure start by having all the locks changed in executive offices at the State House.

Jan. 5, 2002: The Concord police found firsthand evidence of methamphetamine’s creeping presence last month in an attic crawlspace on Northeast Village Street, the Monitor reports. There, in the Heights home, officers found a pH tester and chemical bottles. Methamphetamine, also known at “crank” and “speed,” has long been a top concern for law enforcement officials in the West and Midwest. But only recently has the narcotic turned up in New England, law enforcement officials said.

Author: Insider staff

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