This Week in Concord History

March 13, 1782: The Legislature meets in Concord for the first time. The site is “the Old North,” the First Congregational Church. The building will burn in 1870. It was on the site of the former Walker School.

March 13, 1852: For the third time in three years, local voters reject a plan to turn Concord from a town to a city. The vote is 458 in favor and 614 against.

March 13, 1855: Edward H. Rollins of Concord and his American (Know-Nothing) Party sweep the Democrats out of office in New Hampshire for the first time in decades. The Know-Nothings are anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic, but their party is also seen as a vehicle to oppose the pro-slavery views of the Democrats.

March 13, 1929: Ray Barham is born. In 1981, he will murder his estranged wife’s boyfriend in Wolfeboro, earning a life sentence in New Hampshire State Prison. Six years later, he will begin writing a Monitor column that will earn him several honors including the state columnist of the year award in 1996. He will die in prison Jan. 28, 2002.

March 13, 1993: People hunker down for what television has hyped as the “storm of the century.” Concord gets 17 inches of snow. Most roads will be clear by morning.

March 14, 1939: The Monitor reports that the task of renaming city streets has been turned over to the city planning board by an aldermanic committee which has had the job for nine months and renamed just one street.

March 14, 1947: The Monitor editorializes in favor of the construction of a city swimming pool – and a plan to charge swimmers a fee: “It is no more unreasonable to expect swimmers to pay something for this privilege than it is to expect golfers at Beaver Meadow or tennis players at Memorial Field to pay enough to cover the costs of their sport.”

March 14, 1968: Thomas J. Saltmarsh, a 19-year-old paratrooper from Concord, is killed in action near Saigon. He is the 16th local man to die in combat during the Vietnam War.

March 14, 1996: In Concord three weeks after the presidential primary, Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska says if he is to run for president in 2000, he will have to find a burning desire within him. He learned from his unsuccessful 1992 run, he says, that being angry with George Bush was an inadequate reason. Ultimately, Kerrey will bow out.

March 15, 1855: After the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know-Nothing movement makes major gains in the annual elections, Concord editor George G. Fogg exults over the ousting of entrenched political powers. He writes: “Cowering and quivering before the indignation they have aroused, the panders of Slavery, Intemperance, Catholicism and every manner of evil lie stunned and prostrate at the people’s feet.”

March 15, 1878: After two trials, Joseph LaPage is executed for the ghastly murder of Josie Langmaid. Miss Langmaid, a student at Pembroke Academy, was dragged into the woods, raped and decapitated the morning of Oct. 14, 1875. A prison historian remarks: “The evidence against him at the best was scant, but his guilt was black as night.” In his last hours, LaPage reportedly says: “Me kill girl.”

March 15, 1914: The Right Rev. William Woodruff Niles dies in Concord at the age of 81. He had served as New Hampshire’s Episcopal archbishop for more than 40 years.

March 15, 1999: The Monitor reports that Vishay Sprague, one of Concord’s leading manufacturing employers, plans to close its plant on the Heights and move its remaining 2000 jobs to Maine.

March 15, 2001: Led by Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, more than 250 people stage a midday rally at the State House to protest the budget introduced by Republican House Finance Committee Chairman Neal Kurk. GOP leaders, in turn, accuse Shaheen of disingenuous gamesmanship, saying she’s trying to scare people into supporting her school funding plan.

March 16, 2003: Gov. Craig Benson’s proposed budget would reduce the prison staff looking after state inmates and shrink funding for education and rehabilitation, despite a growing number of residents behind bars, the Monitor reports. It could also increase crowding at the Concord prison.

March 17, 2000: The attorney general announces a breakthrough in the 1981 murder of Concord resident Yvonne Fine. Joseph Whittey, who’s been in prison on an unrelated attempted murder conviction since 1990, is now charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 81-year-old woman.

March 17, 2003: Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, riding a wave of liberal dissent over the looming war against Iraq, offers local voters an alternative to both President Bush and to much of the ever-expanding field of Democratic presidential candidates. Invading Iraq will be the “wrong war at the wrong time” Dean tells a cheering crowd that packs Concord City Auditorium at noontime.

March 18, 1852: George G. Fogg, Concord editor, Free Soil leader and temperance man, puts the best face on his party’s election loss to the Democrats. “The men who have carried this state by rum this year must take the responsibility for it next year,” he writes. “The wedge they have so successfully used to divide and conquer their opponents will, ere long, be found severing the joints and marrow of their organization.”

March 18, 1949: Concord native Edward H. Brooks wins promotion to lieutenant general in the U.S. Army. From a second lieutenant of cavalry during World War I through his post-World War II service in the Caribbean, Brooks has had a distinguished military career. He won the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in World War I and the Silver Star, Bronze Star and French Croix de Guerre, among other decorations, during World War II.


March 18, 2001: The college basketball season for Concord’s Matt Bonner and his Florida teammates comes to an abrupt end when the Gators, a No. 3 seed, are routed by No. 11 Temple in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Bonner, a sophomore, scores 13 points and grabs 11 rebounds in the loss.

March 19, 1967: The calendar says spring is about to start, but few believe it. The low temperature in Concord falls to 16 below zero, tying the record for the coldest March day in the 20th century. This follows a reading of 13 below the day before and 10 below the day before that.

March 19, 2000: On its way to the NCAA championship game, fifth-seeded Florida cruises past fourth-seeded Illinois in the second round of the men’s basketball tournament. Concord’s Matt Bonner, a freshman, sums up his first weekend of March Madness this way: “Before the game I was nervous . . . oh wow, I can’t even explain how nervous I was. But once you go up and down the court a few times you forget about it.”

March 19, 2002: In Concord after less than three hours of deliberation, jurors decide that Dwayne Thompson murdered his longtime roommate Robert Provencher, the man known by Main Street regulars as “Cigar Bob” for his ever-present smokes of choice.

Author: Insider Staff

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