This Week in Concord History

Feb. 5, 1853: Thomas Francis Meagher, the famed Irish exile and itinerant lecturer for Irish independence, speaks at Concord’s Depot Hall. Among his listeners is president-elect Franklin Pierce.

Feb. 5, 1942: Dudley Orr, the state tax commissioner, is pictured on the front page of the Monitor riding his bicycle to work. In a time of severe gas and tire rationing, he says, it is important for public officials to set a good example. He has no problem getting to work but is not fond of pedaling back up the hill to his home at 125 Centre St.

Feb. 5, 1942: An alert Concord police officer spots the car of a suspected spy on South Main Street near the Capitol Theater. He arrests the man at gunpoint. The chief gives the officer a pat on the back, but no charges are filed against the man. “It was all in error,” authorities say.

Feb. 5, 1968: Rev. Norman Limoge, the administrator at Bishop Brady High School, sends 18 boys to Ray’s Barber Shop after they defy his warning to come to school with “respectable haircuts.” “We’re all here under protest,” one boy tells a reporter. “We didn’t think he’d do it,” says another. The act will lead to a lively exchange of letters to the editor. “Jesus wore long hair,” a defender of the boys will write. Margaret Savard of Pembroke will respond: “As the parent of one of the boys involved, you have my approval.”

Feb. 5, 2000: Concord Coach 425, built at the Abbott-Downing Co. in Concord in 1874, is headed on a new journey, the Monitor reports. The New London Historical Society is sending the coach out for a refurbishing. Unlike its original travels, which were powered by four or five horses, this one is taking place inside a moving van.

Feb. 5, 2001: Up to a foot of snow falls in just a few hours as a true blizzard hits the state. By the time the snow is done the next day, Concord will have about 15 inches of accumulation. Several towns will report more than double that.

Feb. 5, 2002: The preliminary $51.8 million school budget is up nearly one percent from last year and includes provisions for a new roof at Broken Ground School, three new sports teams at Concord High School and a security guard to watch school buildings after the last bell rings, the Monitor reports.

Feb. 6, 1862: Meeting in Concord, a “Union Convention” adopts a platform plank on the war similar to that of the Democrats, which states: “This war should not be waged in any spirit of conquest or subjugation, or for the purpose of overthrowing the rights or established institutions of any of the States.”

Feb. 6, 1901: The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is formed. The group is a reaction to failed governmental efforts in Concord and Washington to promote safe and regenerative forestry policies. Years of fires, floods and clear-cutting have left the state’s northern forest in terrible condition.

Feb. 6, 2003: An overnight maintenance worker at the McDonald’s Restaurant in Penacook is severely beaten by two men in an attempted robbery early in the morning, the police say. After the incident, Dana VanDemark, 48, of Hill, is taken to Concord Hospital where he undergoes surgery for face and head injuries. Two men, Mitchell J. Edward, 20, of Elkins Street, Franklin, and Travis Turcotte, 23, of South State Street, Concord, will be arraigned on several charges related to the robbery.

Feb. 7, 1986: As a memorial to Christa McAuliffe, the Concord High teacher who died during the Challenger launch, a new state trust fund is formed to allow other teachers to take “journeys of discovery and enlightenment.”

Feb. 7, 2000: After 31 years, WKXL talk-show host Gardner Hill airs his final edition of Party Line. The Concord station’s owner has decided to hire a new radio personality. “Nooooooo Gardner,” one woman calls in to say. “This is ridiculous,” another adds. “I can’t say that I’m shocked, but I am disgusted.”

Feb. 8, 1820: George Hough, Concord’s first printer and editor of an 18th century newspaper in the city, dies at the age of 73.

Feb. 8, 1831: Ellen Tucker Emerson of Concord, wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson, dies of tuberculosis in Boston at the age of 19.

Feb. 8, 1847: Franklin Pierce addresses a large meeting called in Concord to advocate “a vigorous and determined prosecution of the war with Mexico.” Pierce will win a brigadier general’s commission, and his war exploits will help propel him to the presidency in 1852.

Feb. 8, 1897: Concord’s first movie plays at White’s Opera House. The show includes bathers at Rahway, N.J., a watermelon-eating contest, a mounted policeman stopping a runaway horse and a three-minute boxing match featuring Gentleman Jim Corbett. “There is nothing fake about it,” the Monitor reviewer reports, adding that the pictures are “vivid and truthful.”

Feb. 8, 1939: The Monitor reports on the state of the city’s residential real estate: 3,484 single family homes, 1,044 two-family homes, 97 three-family homes, 105 dwellings for four or more families and 16 apartment houses.

Feb. 8, 1943: The crew of nine women running the sawmill at Turkey Pond is forced to shut down the operation until the pond thaws. The women have been working at the mill since October and all vow to return in May. Timber boss Howard E. Ahlskog says the women are more loyal and dependable than the last male crews he hired.

Feb. 8, 2001: More than 30 Concord police and state Drug Task Force officers raid an apartment complex in Concord to arrest three men and a woman who the authorities say are involved in a crack ring. The city’s police deployment is one of the largest in recent memory.

Feb. 8, 2003: More than 60 teenagers, one pre-teen and a handful of adults turn out in front of the State House to protest military involvement in Iraq. High school students from Wilton to Milford, Hampton to Hopkinton gather at an open mic session sponsored by a number of youth organizations. “A lot of people say young people are apathetic,” says Luc Schuster, youth organizer with the American Friends Service Committee. “I think this helps prove that’s not the case.”

Feb. 9, 1986: Former U.S. Senate majority leader Howard Baker names Tom Rath of Concord to direct his 1988 presidential campaign. The campaign will founder in March 1987, however, when Baker calls it off upon becoming President Reagan’s chief of staff.

Feb. 9. 2001: Concord High sophomore Rachel Umberger wins the 300-meter and 1,000-meter runs at the state Indoor Track and Field Championships. As a team, the Tide finishes fifth overall.

Feb. 10, 1927: The Schoonmaker Chair Co. signs a seven-year contract to use New Hampshire state prison inmates to make chairs. The company will pay 15 cents per man-hour.

Feb. 10, 1942: Robert Leon Harris, a 15-year-old student, agrees to leave Rundlett Junior High School “so as not to cause any trouble.” He is the second Jehovah’s Witness in the city to refuse on religious grounds to pledge allegiance to flag and country.

Feb. 10, 1992: Concord Mayor Bill Veroneau privately tells embattled City Manager Jim Smith that it is time for Smith to resign. In his latest scrape with councilors and residents, Smith’s slowness in sounding the alarm on a property tax shortfall made him a political target in the November election. He will take Veroneau’s advice and leave the job after 13 years.

Feb. 11, 1941: President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints John G. Winant of Concord to succeed Joseph Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. Winant, a Republican, is a former governor and served earlier in FDR’s presidency as the first administrator of the Social Security Administration.

Feb. 11, 2000: A Massachusetts development company is considering building a large shopping center anchored by a supermarket on land in the South End, the Monitor reports. Working through a local real estate agent, the company has approached at least 10 different property owners in a triangular-shaped area between Hall and South Main streets near Exit 13 off Interstate 93.

Author: Insider Staff

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