This week in Concord history

Aug. 11, 1766: John Wentworth is appointed governor of New Hampshire by King George II and also “surveyor of the king’s woods in North America.” He will take charge the following summer.


Aug. 12, 2003: Rain pours down on Penacook and Boscawen, filling storm drains and waterways beyond capacity. The storm carries away a 15-foot section of River Road, where a culvert leads into the Contoocook River.


Aug. 12, 1927: In the Hall of Flags at the State House, a bronze plaque is unveiled honoring Walter Kittredge of Merrimack, who wrote one of the most popular songs of the Civil War, “Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground.” A Boston publisher originally declined to pay Kittredge $15 for the song but, to his great fortune, changed his mind. The end of the war was only the beginning of the song’s popularity. It was a staple at Grand Army of the Republic reunions well into the 20th century. Kittredge himself sang it before huge veterans’ conventions in Chicago and Philadelphia. Ironically, Kittredge was no veteran; though drafted during the war, he was unable to serve because of a disability.


Aug. 13, 1852: The tallest flagpole in New Hampshire history is erected in the State House yard, put up to celebrate Franklin Pierce’s nomination by the Democrats to be president. It is 143 feet tall, higher than the State House dome. First flown is an emblem with pictures of Pierce and Sen. Rufus de Vane King of Alabama, his running mate.


Aug. 14, 1864: Justus Drake of Pittsfield, a cavalryman in a New Hampshire troop, dies of starvation at the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville. His grave there is No. 5,577. He was captured less than two months before.


Aug. 14, 1945:The victory bell rings at 7:11 p.m., signaling the defeat of Japan and the end of the war. Thousands of people rush into downtown Concord to celebrate peace. One planned event is an “o so joyful Hara Kiri parade.” Children in kimonos carry parasols down Main Street, vying for $1 prizes for the best costumes. The police report that the throngs are well-behaved with the exception of a carload of Pittsfield boys who are caught setting off false fire alarms.


Aug. 14, 1852: Concord officials vote to build the Sewalls Falls bridge.


Aug. 14, 1870: Admiral David G. Farragut, Civil War hero of Vicksburg and Mobile Bay and one of the first northerners to enter Richmond at war’s end, dies at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth.


Aug. 14, 1864: One day before the deadline imposed by the Legislature, Concord Mayor Benjamin Gale and other citizens remove a house south of the State House to make way for the building of Capitol Street.


Aug. 15, 2000: Aurangzeb Khan of Pakistan, believed to be the tallest man alive, spends the night at the Hampton Inn in Bow. On tour with the Sterling and Reid Bros. Circus, Khan stands 8 feet tall and weighs 380 pounds.


Aug. 15, 1864: Steam whistles and cannon herald the opening of Capitol Street along the south side of the State House grounds. A month earlier, the Legislature voted that if the street was not constructed by this day, they would move the capital.


Aug. 15, 1945: The Monitor’s lead headline reads: “City At A Standstill, Thousands Greet End Of War.”


Aug. 16, 2001: Tilton town officials present plans to convert a debris-strewn riverside lot into a community park, complete with trails, a fishing dock and picnic areas, on the former site of the Tilton Tannery.


Aug. 16, 1843: A severe gale accompanied by torrents of rain destroys a large elm tree in the State House yard. The tree is 20 inches in diameter at its base. The wind breaks it off 20 feet about the ground.


Aug. 16, 1777: Gen. John Stark deploys his 1,500 men to receive Hessian and British forces marching on Bennington. If his troops are worthy, he tells them, they must “prove it or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight.” Fighting with muskets, bayonets, pikes and swords, Stark’s men kill 207 and capture 750. Thomas Jefferson will later say: “This raised America from the depths of despair to the summit of hope.”


Aug. 17, 2003: Florida Sen. Bob Graham makes a cameo appearance at Garrison Keillor’s show A Prairie Home Companion at the Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center in Gilford. “You know,” Graham says about President Bush to a sell-out crowd, “you get that fellow alone in a boat and he seems almost smart!”


Aug. 17, 2001: In a ceremony honoring the Derry astronaut, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen signs legislation designating the Alan Shepard Discovery Center, a planned addition to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, as the official state memorial to Shepard.

Author: Insider Staff

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