This Week in Concord History

May 14, 1726: Having made camp near the Merrimack River the night before, a surveying party of 34 men from Haverhill, Mass., fans out in the fields and woods of what will one day be Concord.

May 14, 1846: The New Hampshire Patriot advises Concord that the United States has declared war on Mexico. New Hampshire will enlist a battalion of 389 men, including Concord’s Fire Engine Co. No. 2 and three Patriot printers.

May 14, 1977: Two convicted murderers escape from the state prison. They are Edgar Clifford Avery Jr., convicted of slaying a Concord woman, and Cleo R. Roy, sentenced to life after pleading guilty to killing a Manchester police officer.

May 14, 1993: A mother and her children narrowly avoid death when a fast-moving fire rips through their Royal Gardens apartment. Fire investigators will later report that half the fire alarms at the complex don’t work.

May 14, 2002: At a dedication ceremony for the grand opening of the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord, firefighters demonstrate theirs skills on a simulated jet crash.

May 15, 1726: At Sugar Ball in East Concord, Enoch Coffin, a Congregationalist minister, preaches at the first Christian service in the future Concord. His congregation is a group of men who have come from Massachusetts Bay Colony to survey the Plantation of Penny Cook.

May 15, 1727: A Congregational church, Concord’s first, is ready for occupancy. It is a 40-by-25-foot log structure at North Main and Chapel streets. The logs are thick enough to be bullet-proof, and the church, though windowless, has port-holes through which to shoot Indians.

May 15, 1908: Unable to keep up with the Concord City Auditorium for live shows, Manager Ben White of White’s Opera House begins showing continuous motion pictures and illustrated songs every day but Sunday. Admission is a dime for adults a nickel for children. The songs are by Fred Rushlow. This venture will prove an immense success.

May 15, 1983: Auditions for an amateur production of Annie draw 23 little girls to Concord’s Phenix Theatre. “You need not be afraid. None of us can sing so whatever you can do will be fine,” says producer Norman Leger.

May 16, 1893: After a sensational trial in the killing of a young woman who jilted him, Frank C. Almy, also known as George Abbott, is executed at the state prison. He is the ninth man hanged in New Hampshire and the last before capital punishment is repealed. It will be resumed in 1916. The execution is botched, the rope slipping over Almy’s head as he falls. Over his protests, he is quickly hanged again – and efficiently. There are rumors afterward that Almy’s body has been stolen, but Warden George W. Colbath assures the public that he knows precisely where it is buried.

May 17, 1851: For a second time, Concord voters refuse to turn their town into a city. The vote is 582 against and 139 in favor. Two years later, they will change their minds.

May 17, 1943: A bill is introduced in the New Hampshire House to dump all conscientious objectors “on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.”

May 17, 1983: Sculptor Dimitri Gerakaris oversees the installation of the steel arch at the entrance to Eagle Square. It is not an instant hit. “It looks like someone’s nightmare that hasn’t been completed,” says one passer-by. “It’s art, Arthur,” corrects his wife.

May 17, 1995: Concord Police Chief David Walchak calls on Gov. Steve Merrill to veto the Legislature’s decision to join the multi-state lottery Powerball. “We’re disappointed in the Legislature for passing it,” says Walchak, a leading member of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, “and we’re disappointed with anybody who permits the expansion of gambling in New Hampshire.”

May 18, 1860: In Concord, a 100-gun salute is fired in response to news that the Republicans have nominated Abraham Lincoln. “They were very feeble reports, the caliber of the guns corresponding with that of the candidates,” reports the city’s Democratic newspaper, the New Hampshire Patriot.

May 18, 1861: As Concord residents throng “on either side of the column with cheers and huzzas” on a Saturday afternoon, the First New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment parades through the streets. It will leave for the front in a week.

May 18, 1977: Three men escape from the state prison by sawing through the kitchen roof. They join two killers on the lam, bringing to five the number of prisoners who have escaped from maximum security in the last five days. Three of the five are murderers. The warden declines to talk to reporters.

May 19, 1944: Mrs. Charles A. Morin of Monroe Street in Concord hopes a new postal policy aimed at improving communication with prisoners-of-war in Germany will bring word from her son. Lt. Antoine Robert Morin, a pilot, was shot down in February, and his mother received this note, dated Feb. 28: “Dear Folks: Am prisoner of war in Germany. Well and safe. No need for worry. Will write as often as possible. We’ll be together after victory. Will see you all in six months. Bob.” Mrs. Walker has not heard from her son since.

May 19, 2002: Bishop John McCormack addresses parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Concord during morning Mass. The address is a response to the resignation of the Rev. Aime Boisselle, who resigned after three men accused him of molesting them during the early 1960s.

May 20, 1927: Filing his nationally syndicated column from Concord, humorist Will Rogers writes: “No attempts at jokes today. A slim, tall, bashful, smiling American boy is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, where no lone human being has ever ventured before. He is being prayed for to every kind of Supreme Being that has a following. If he is lost it will be the most universally regretted loss we ever had.” The next day, that American boy, Charles Lindbergh, will land the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris.

May 20, 1983: A crowd of women gather at a public hearing in Concord to describe the sorrows of alimony, child support and high legal fees as the state contemplates reforms to divorce laws. “We have to start with the girls and tell them this business about living happily ever after – that is a fantasy. It’s a fairy tale. They must face the world knowing they’re responsible for their own support,” says Susan Caldwell, head of the state Commission on the Status of Women.

Author: Insider Staff

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