This week in Concord history

March 11, 1952: Sen. Estes Kefauver’s grass-roots presidential campaign pays off, as he upsets President Truman, who campaigned through surrogates, in the first modern New Hampshire primary. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower easily wins the Republican victory over Sen. Robert O. Taft and two other candidates.

March 11, 1734: Its right to self-government recognized seven years after the first white settlers arrive, Rumford in Essex County, Mass., convenes its first town meeting at 2 p.m. In time the town will be known as Concord, N.H.

March 12, 2003: Residents come out in droves to the Hopkinton town meeting to reject a nearly $1 million project to revitalize Contoocook Village. It fails overwhelmingly, 334-196. “You have to vote your pocketbook,” says Contoocook resident George Twomey, 73. “It isn’t a question of whether it’s good, bad or otherwise; you have to vote your pocketbook.”

March 12, 2001: A month and a half after the murders of two Dartmouth professors, investigators and the reporters covering them are still sorting through rumors, most of them baseless. Meanwhile, the story remains big news. “They were murdered, and it’s a mystery,” Boston Herald Managing Editor Andrew Gully tells the Monitor. “Then it turns out the suspects are two young boys from a very small town in Vermont, and there’s no obvious reason why. So it compounds the mystery. It’s very compelling.”

March 12, 1986: Gov. John Sununu signs into law a measure providing money to pay for placing children in group and foster homes. The measure provides money to cover court-ordered placements. It is a result of the state’s failure to pay for a law it approved the year before.

March 13, 2002: After learning a female inmate accused more than one corrections officer of “sexual misconduct” at the Goffstown women’s prison, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections and the state police launch an investigation.

March 13, 2001: Spurred on by months of intense debate, more than 2,100 Bow residents flood the polls to vote on whether to abandon the traditional town meeting form of government. (A majority of voters say no.) A year earlier, when turnout was lighter, proposals to switch to official ballot voting for both the town and the school district came much closer to passing.

March 13, 1974: U.S. Sen. Norris Cotton, long a supporter of President Nixon, says he would not have announced his retirement this year if he had known the Watergate issue would remain so “hot.” “I think only rats desert a sinking ship,” Cotton says. “I’m no rat.” Cotton makes his remarks in Concord, where he had come to witness Gov. Meldrim Thomson’s signing of a bill allowing Franklin Pierce Law Center to grant degrees.

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, 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 current Walker School.

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, 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 14, 1660: William Leddra is hanged in New Hampshire “for being a Quaker.”

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, 1837: The town of New Chester is renamed Hill, in honor of Gov. Isaac Hill.

March 14, 1948: For the second day in a row, the low temperature in Concord is 11 below zero. The normal March low for the 20th century is 22 above.

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 15, 2000: A 22-year-old single mother of twins from Franklin is one of the contestants on the new CBS television series Survivor, the Monitor reports. When the show airs this summer, Jenna Lewis will become a household name and a cause celebre throughout her home state.

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, 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, 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 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 16, 2002: For the third year in a row Canterbury residents vote against expanding Elkins Public Library.

March 16, 2000: Pittsfield voters reject a $76,500 proposal to implement full-day kindergarten. Only a handful of districts in the state have such a program; some don’t have even a half-day program.

March 16, 1680: New Hampshire’s first colonial assembly meets in Portsmouth. Today’s Legislature has 424 members. That year, just 11.

March 16, 1983: The Monitor reports on the results of local straw polls on a statewide bottle-return bill. Loudon, Canterbury, Hopkinton and Deering vote in favor. Pittsfield tables the issue. Northwood says no.

March 16, 1918: In Ossipee, the 80-year-old Austin H.F. Quimby, veteran of the USS Kearsarge of Civil War fame, tells reporters he’d like to join the navy and take a shot at a German submarine.

March 16, 1933: Judson Hale is born. He will grow up to be editor of Yankee magazine and the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Author: Insider Staff

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