This week in Concord history

Dec. 24, 1979: Mississippi Gov. Cliff Finch arrives in Concord and declares, “I will be the next president of the United States.” If he can’t get enough signatures to get his name on the ballot, he says, he’ll run as a write-in.

Dec. 24, 2001: For years, New Hampshire has lagged behind other states in compiling the crime statistics that can affect federal funds, local police efforts and legislative spending, the Monitor reports. A recent push by the state attorney general’s office has increased the number of local departments recording and reporting crimes, but some say New Hampshire still has a ways to go.

Dec. 24, 2000: Several former Union Leader correspondents announce they’re starting up a free weekly competitor. HippoPress Manchester, scheduled to hit the streets in the new year, will focus on younger readers with a mix of reporting on restaurants, night clubs and the arts.

Dec. 24, 1998: A 26-year-old snowmobiler crashes through the ice of Turkey Pond in Concord and is stuck in the frigid water for an hour – staying afloat by purposely freezing his forearms and hands on top of the ice. Concord Fire Battalion Chief calls it the most dangerous ice rescue in memory. “There was such shallow ice around him,” he says.

Dec. 24, 1989: Don’t tell Concord folks winter has just begun: Only a month after the coldest November day of the century, the city faces another deep freeze. The day’s low temperature is 20 degrees below zero.

Dec. 24, 1975: Gov. Meldrim Thomson Jr. nominates David H. Souter, a seven-year veteran of the attorney general’s office, to be attorney general of New Hampshire. He will replace Warren Rudman. Tom Rath of Concord is nominated as Souter’s deputy.

Dec. 25, 1820: Episcopalians hold Concord’s first Christmas celebration 93 years after the town was settled. Because Concord was settled by Massachusetts Congregationalists, the holiday was previously banned.

Dec. 25, 1776: Gen. George Washington informs Col. John Stark of New Hampshire that Stark will lead one of the elements in a surprise attack on British forces at Trenton, N.J.

Dec. 26, 2002: The first snowflakes that lined door wreaths and lights Christmas morning were just a harbinger of what was to come, the Monitor reports. By the early afternoon, snow fell in sheets, with up to 20 inches predicted accumulation across the state.

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

Dec. 26, 1987: A Monitor poll of city councilors gives Liz Hager the edge in a three-way vote for mayor of Concord. She will eventually defeat Jim MacKay – with the help of candidate Bob Washburn – becoming the city’s first female mayor.

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. 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. 27, 1979: Secretary of State William Gardner speculates that the state’s new $500 filing fee to run in the presidential primary has pared down the number of candidates for the 1980 contest: just 12 men are on the ballot. “We didn’t have the ministers dragging crosses, the Indian chiefs, or the men handing out white shoelaces that we’ve had in the past,” Gardner says.

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. 28, 2001: The Olympic torch comes to Concord on its way to Salt Lake City and makes a quick stop at the State House for a 15-minute ceremony. Former Olympians, Concord student athletes and what seems like thousands of people come out to see the flame.

Dec. 28, 1999: State Republican Party Chairman Steve Duprey issues a call for a Washington-based conservative group to pull a New Hampshire television ad attacking Sen. John McCain’s support of campaign finance reform. Duprey tells the group, Americans for Tax Reform, that the ad “crosses the line from a fair discussion of the issues to a blatant mischaracterization of John McCain’s record and views.” The ad shows a silhouette that at first resembles President Clinton but turns out to be McCain.

Dec. 28, 1835: William Chandler is born in Concord. He will go on to become a U.S. senator and secretary of the Navy. He will found the Rumford Press and revitalize a struggling Monitor.

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, 2001: A three-alarm fire guts the former Allied Tannery complex in Boscawen. Firefighters from 14 towns work most of the day before they extinguish the blaze.

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. 29, 1933: The low temperature in Concord is 21 below zero. That’s what it was yesterday. And that’s what it will be again tomorrow.

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. 30, 2001: In the four months since part-time security officers were given the choice between a 27 percent pay cut and losing their district court jobs, Ray Daly, chief of security at Concord District Court, and his staff have learned how to skip lunch, the Monitor reports. With so many part-timers deciding to opt out of the system, court administrators have had to pull full-time officers out of Concord so smaller courts such as Claremont – previously staffed by part-timers – can open.

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, 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. 30, 1894: The first meeting is held at Christian Science’s lovely stone Mother Church in Boston. The religion’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, a native of Bow, authorized the building of the Mother Church two years before.

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, 1803: Gov. John T. Gilman signs into a law an act calling for the surveying and mapping of New Hampshire. It will be nearly 13 years before Philip Carrigain’s map of the state is published.

Author: Insider Staff

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