This Week in Concord History

Dec. 26, 1776: Col. John Stark’s troops lead the attack on the British and Hessians at Trenton. Capt. Joshua Abbot’s Concord company and Ebenezer Frye’s Pembroke company march with Stark. Frye, “being very corpulent,” tires quickly and tells his men to move ahead “as fast as they please” under Sgt. Ephraim Stevens. The battle lasts 50 minutes. The Patriot victory is a turning point of the Revolution.

Dec. 26, 1856: A fire reduces Concord’s Phenix Hotel to ashes. It will rise again on the same spot.

Dec. 26, 1900: The police foil a murder for hire in Concord. The hit man turns in the woman who offered him $10, her rings and a pair of opera glasses to kill her estranged husband. The woman, 26-year-old Carrie Sinclair Huntoon, is a Concord belle who can trace her ancestry to the Pilgrims. She will be found insane and committed to the asylum.

Dec. 26, 2001: A fire tears through a two-story house on Lyndon Street, leaving three people homeless. No one was injured.

Dec. 27, 1975: The New York Times reports that more than half the cells at the New Hampshire state prison in Concord are damaged beyond use by inmates angered over the refusal of officials to release a dozen prisoners from solitary confinement for their Christmas meal. Three people are injured in the four-hour disturbance and about 100 inmates are transferred to new locations.

Dec. 27, 1985: At the Ramada Inn on Main Street in Concord, Christa McAuliffe gives her last press conference before setting out for Florida and final preparations for the launch of the Challenger.

Dec. 27, 2002: Andrew McCrae’s lawyer tells a judge he will fight efforts to return McCrae to California, where the college sophomore has admitted to killing a police officer Nov. 19. McCrae, who legally changed his name from Andrew Mickel, was arrested Nov. 26 in a Concord hotel room after insisting on being allowed to tell a reporter why he had ambushed and shot Officer David Mobilio three times. He said he was protesting police brutality and corporate irresponsibility.

Dec. 28, 1856: Fire destroys the Phenix Hotel in Concord.

Dec. 28, 1862: Private Miles Peabody of Antrim writes to his parents from Falmouth, Va., that after the Battle of Fredericksburg, his infantry regiment, the 5th New Hampshire Volunteers, can muster fewer than 100 men for duty. “We can afford to be disbanded for we have achieved a name that no one in New Hampshire need be ashamed of,” he writes. This suggestion will prove to be wishful thinking. The regiment, which left Concord 14 months earlier with more than 1,000 men, will fight at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg before being sent home to recruit.

Dec. 28, 1978: State and Concord police officers arrest 28 people in the largest drug bust in city history. Thirty-one people are eventually charged, but the Merrimack County attorney will eventually drop all charges. The chief reasons: a lack of cooperation between the police and prosecutors and flaws in a diary recording the work of an undercover agent.

Dec. 29, 1905: The Monitor reports on the opening of the New England Telephone and Telegraph exchange, a two-story building at School and Green streets. On the upper floor are two pay phones staffed by attendants. Female operators at the switchboard, regularly asking, “Number, please,” make connections for callers. Beginning with 1,688 subscribers, the building will provide phone service for half a century.

Dec. 29, 1975: Gov. Meldrim Thomson gives state prison officials until Feb. 1 to increase efficiency and order at the prison in Concord, after a Christmas Day rampage by inmates that resulted in $250,000 in damage. Thomson says Warden Raymond Helgemoe is “a nice enough fellow” but “wholly inadequate to the tough requirements of state prison administration.”

Dec. 29, 1999: The governor’s office receives a written threat that a bomb will explode during First Night activities somewhere in the state. The state police believe the threat comes from the same person who planted two bombs in Concord the year before. First Night festivities will be curtailed, but there will be no explosion.

Dec. 29, 2000: More than 50 Concord residents have called the city recently to complain that their water tastes or smells bad, the Monitor reports. The culprit: golden brown algae. The city’s water treatment system kills it, but the process releases an apparently harmless chemical that has an odor and taste best described as musty.

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. 30, 1999: First Night organizers vow to carry on with most of their plans despite a bomb threat. However, the annual fireworks display is canceled, as is a planned countdown to the new millennium. Organizers are advised by the police that security would be difficult at such a large Main Street gathering.

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

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

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.”

Author: Insider Staff

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