This week in Concord History

April 15, 1861: Three days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the first call for troops reaches Concord by telegraph from Washington, D.C., at 8 a.m. Friends rush across to the Phenix Hotel to awaken Edward E. Sturtevant, a popular police officer and former printer. Sturtevant rushes to the State House and, fulfilling his fondest wish, becomes New Hampshire’s first Civil War volunteer.


April 15, 1928: Augusta Pillsbury of Manchester makes history, becoming the first legislator in the nation to have a baby while in office.


April 15, 1992: Franklin Mayor Brenda Elias announces plans to run for the U.S. Senate. “So many of the problems of the state of New Hampshire originate at the federal level,” she says. Elias plans to bring her brand of fiscal austerity to D.C. She will lose in the Democratic primary to John Rauh.


April 15, 1725: Captain John Lovewell, who three months earlier collected 1,000 pounds for the scalps of 10 Indians he caught sleeping at Province Lake, leads an excursion of 46 men on a hunt for more. They will meet and fight a band of Pequawkets under Chief Paugus. The Indians will kill Lovewell, and only 11 members of his party will make it back to their base in Nashua.


April 15, 1987: Pete du Pont, the governor of Delaware, brings his presidential campaign to Keene. With no local organization, he spends the day by himself looking for voters to chat with. “Missing, however, was any attempt to make real connection with someone who might carry on his campaign locally in his absence. . . . Du Pont was observing some of New Hampshire’s primary rituals but without comprehending their purpose,” writes Dayton Duncan in a campaign history.


April 15, 1865: At 2 a.m., the telegraph at the Eagle Hotel brings news that President Lincoln has been shot. At 7:22 a.m., Lincoln dies in Washington. Word spreads quickly in Concord, and crowds gather in the streets. At 9 p.m. many drift to former president Franklin Pierce’s mansard-roofed home on Main Street near Thorndike Street. A lantern illuminating his face, Pierce expresses his “profound sorrow and regret,” telling the crowd: “My best wishes to you all and for what we ought to hold most dear – our country – our whole country.”



April 16, 1865: Capt. Edwin Bedee of the 12th New Hampshire Regiment is arrested on suspicion of absconding with the papers President Lincoln had with him when he was shot at Ford’s Theater two nights before. Mary Lincoln gave Bedee the papers for safekeeping after Bedee, who had attended the play, helped a surgeon locate the president’s mortal wound. After two days, Bedee, of Meredith, will be exonerated when it is learned that, after helping to carry Lincoln across the street to his deathbed, he gave the papers to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.


April 16, 1965: After a major organizing and fund-raising effort by, among others, Dudley Orr, Russell Martin, Malcolm McLane and figure-skating Police Chief Walter Carlson, construction begins on the ice hockey rink that will become the Everett Arena.


April 16, 1967: The governor and Executive Council approve the state’s acquisition of 224.5 acres of marshland off Hoit Road in East Concord for a fish and wildlife preserve.


April 16, 1623: David Thomson, who has sailed with a small group aboard the Jonathan from Plymouth, England, lands at Odiorne’s Point in Rye. He will establish the first permanent white settlement within New Hampshire’s boundaries.


April 17, 2003: Attorneys called their last witness against the Rev. George Robichaud, who is on trial in Belknap County Superior Court for two sexual assault charge, rape and attempted rape. Robichaud is the first priest to be tried on sexual assault charges since the clergy abuse scandal broke in New Hampshire last year.


April 17, 2002: Three New England Patriots and team owner Bob Kraft attend a rally at the state house in Concord to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl win. Players David Patten, Antowain Smith and Richard Seymour sign footballs for fans. “We were red, white and blue,” Kraft said. “We were the Patriots. We were underdogs. But most of all, we were winners.”


April 17, 2002: Concord sets a temperature record for the second day in a row. Yesterday it was 88 degrees. Today it’s 94!


April 17, 2001: The Laconia School Board votes, 6-1, to eliminate the cartoonish depiction of an American Indian painted on the wall of the high school gym. Also out is the practice of someone dressing up in Indian garb and cheering at school sporting events. For now, the board demurs on the question of changing the school nickname from Sachems.


April 17, 1882: President Chester Arthur appoints William E. Chandler, a prominent Republican politician, lawyer and journalist from Concord, secretary of the navy.


April 17, 2000: State prison inmates are paying particular attention to the crisis at the New Hampshire Supreme Court. One inmate says he has spoken to at least 20 others who are closely monitoring news of the court’s supposed wrongdoing, hopeful that an examination of court practices will help set them free.


April 17, 1885: Thomas Samon, who killed a woman in Laconia, stuffed her body in a trunk and wheeled it away, is the first man executed at the new state prison. A prison historian describes Samon as a dull man who spoke with a nasal tone and had one blue eye and one brown eye.


April 17, 1971: Two months after his trip to the moon, it is Alan Shepard Day in New Hampshire. The astronaut, originally from Derry, shares in a $5-a-plate lunch of ham in pineapple sauce at the Concord Country Club. He has no plans to enter politics. “I’m a pilot and an engineer, and I think I’ll stick to what I know about,” he says. Of the moon, he says: “It’s desolate, it’s quiet, it’s stark. . . . There are no birch trees up there.”


April 17, 1989: New Hampshire House Speaker Doug Scamman says he will leave the Legislature after 11 terms and run for Bob Smith’s seat in Congress. He will be beaten in a GOP primary by Jackson innkeeper Bill Zeliff.


April 17, 1968: Speaking in Manchester, Dr. Timothy Leary, the country’s No. 1 proponent of LSD, steers clear of the subject on the advice of his lawyers. He is under indictment on drug charges. Instead Leary talks about the generation gap, criticizing DeGaulle, Mao, J. Edgar Hoover and William Loeb as “old men lumbering into a new age with old concepts.”


April 17, 1992: In Moscow, Senators Bob Smith of New Hampshire and John Kerry of Massachusetts say they’ve received information from the Russian government that American deserters and possibly POWS were brought to the Soviet Union after the Vietnam War but have no evidence that any stayed in the country.


April 17, 1945: Endorsing Concord Mayor Charles McKee’s request, the ministers’ council agrees that all church bells will toll at the hour of victory in Europe. The council’s president, the aptly named Rev. Ernest Shepherd, makes the announcement.


April 18, 2003: After almost two months of negotiation Ken Epworth agrees to sell the Rolfe Barn to the Penacook Historical Society. The deal means that the city will drop its bid to seize the barn through eminent domain.


April 18, 2001: The New Hampshire House votes, 235-148, against a 2.5 percent sales tax proposed by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen as a method of paying for public education.


April 18, 1993: In a Holocaust remembrance at Temple Beth Jacob, a Torah recently acquired from Czechoslovakia is displayed. The Nazi regime once tagged the Torah for a museum it planned in Prague for artifacts of “the extinct Jewish people.” The rabbi tells his audience that, contrary to Nazi plans, the Torah is now the symbol of the power of the Jewish people to persevere.


April 18, 1861: During a week of cries for non-partisanship and a rush to volunteer for military service, the Independent Democrat of Concord reports: “Concord is full of the war spirit.”


April 18, 1989: For the first time, the New Hampshire Senate passes legislation to rid the state of three 19th century anti-abortion laws. The bill will be vetoed by Gov. Judd Gregg. Eight years later, it will be signed by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

April 19, 2003: Concord’s Dewey School will close in 2004-05, the Monitor reports. The students who attend the school’s kindergarten and first-grade classes will go to Kimball School, a few blocks away.


April 19, 1976: New England’s biggest April heat wave of the 20th century reaches its crescendo, and the temperature in Concord hits 95 degrees. It’s the third day in a row with a temperature of 90 or above and the fourth day in a row above 80.


April 19, 1861: Luther Ladd of Alexandria dies, the first New Hampshire man killed in the Civil War.


April 19, 1774: Barnstead town meeting voters agree to spend $100 to repair roads and 6 shillings for each of the selectmen.


April 19, 1886: “That certain harbinger of spring, the straw hat, has appeared,” the Evening Monitor reports.


April 19, 1865: On the day of President Lincoln’s funeral in Washington, Civil War veterans, in a procession with a band, march to services at Concord churches.


April 20, 1965: Concord Police Chief Walter Carlson reports that the city’s population is up by 219 adults and 20 minors over 1964. The report also reveals there are 62 more dogs in the city this year than last.


April 20, 1945: Rumford Press officials announce that the company will double the size of its Concord operation. The building addition will cost $500,000.


April 20, 1861: Former president Franklin Pierce, a Democrat and opponent of the Lincoln administration, speaks at the Eagle Hotel on the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. If civil war comes, Pierce declares, all people of the North must stand together. He closes with these words: “I would not live in a state the right and honor of which I was not prepared to defend at all hazards and at all extremities.”


April 20, 1775: Concord’s Rev. Timothy Walker says to a neighbor: “We must fight, John, we must fight. There is no longer any alternative.” Captain Andrew McClary, meanwhile, leads 34 men on the 70-mile march to Cambridge, Mass., to oppose the British. By the end of the month, more than 2,000 New Hampshire Minutemen will be fighting under Col. John Stark.

Author: Insider Staff

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