Feb. 16, 1812: Henry Wilson is born in Farmington. He will serve as vice president to Ulysses S. Grant.
Feb. 16, 1943: The temperature falls to 37 below zero at 8:30 a.m., the coldest temperature ever measured in Concord. The record had been 35 below, set Jan. 8, 1878.
Feb. 16, 1974: Gov. Mel Thomson appeals a U.S. District Court decision which says homosexuals have the same rights as other students at UNH. Judge Hugh Bownes ruled that students had the right to form the Gay Students Organization and hold social events.
Feb. 17, 1740: John Sullivan is born in Somersworth. He will grow up to be a vain lawyer with British sympathies and an American Revolutionary War general, but not a good one.
Feb. 17, 1874: Franklin B. Evans, killer of Josianna Lovering of Northwood, is hanged at the state prison. On his last night, Evans sold his body for $50 to a Concord doctor who planned to bring it to the Dartmouth College medical department. Evans was curious to learn if his bones would be wired together. The idea amused him. Over three years later, in a prank, students will steal his skeleton from a lecture hall and hang it on the college grounds.
Feb. 17, 1900: Deep in debt, the 96-year-old Abbot & Downing coach and wagon company is taken over by creditors. Employment has dropped from 300 to 200. The families of Lewis Downing and J. Stephens Abbot will no longer be involved in running the company after 1901, and the new bosses will struggle to keep the enterprise afloat.
Feb. 18, 2001: NASCAR fans in New Hampshire and around the country watch in disbelief as Dale Earnhardt crashes on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Although the TV audience won’t know it for a little while, Earnhardt dies instantly of head injuries when his famous No. 3 smashes head-on into the track wall. Speaking for many fans, local motorsports commentator Jerry Venne says, “There’s nothing worse that could happen at the speedway.”
Feb. 18, 1827: The Rev. Asa McFarland, Concord’s Congregationalist minister for 30 years, dies at the age of 58. Two portraits of McFarland exist, including one by Samuel F.B. Morse, a resident of Concord in the early 19th century.
Feb. 18, 1774: The New Hampshire Gazette reports on a meeting of the Matrons of Liberty at the house of Susanna Spindle in Portsmouth. The women question the motives of those trying to stop the importation of tea from Great Britain. Their resolution states: “That the Merchants under the pretence of guarding our Liberties, prevented the landing of the East India Company’s Tea; and at the same Time sell their own at such an extravagant Price, make it evident it is not our Interest; but their own private Gain they are pursuing.”
Feb. 18, 1988: The Times of London has this to say about New Hampshire primary voters: “The Wimps Hit Back.” The paper goes onto explain that George Bush’s closest rivals had intimated that he was not quite macho enough for the job. And then he won. “If such opponents of Mr. Bush were right, then, in the privacy of the polling booths here, the vice president drew on a vast, invisible country club of three-martini wimps.”
Feb. 18, 1942: Gov. Robert O. Blood urges coal and fuel oil conservation to aid the war effort. Homes should be heated to no higher than 65 degrees, he says.
Feb. 18, 1998: Franklin’s spring sports season is officially salvaged. Budget cuts have been erased by diligent fundraising. “We’d be walking down the street and people would hand us $10 and say, ‘Give this to spring sports,’ ” says Skip DuBois, the boosters’ vice president.
Feb. 18, 1869: Fire destroys Concord’s Columbian Hotel.
Feb. 18, 1974: Archibald Cox, the special Watergate prosecutor fired four months earlier by President Nixon, receives a hero’s welcome at St. Paul’s School, where he graduated in 1930. Speaking of the possibility of impeachment, Cox says that by his definition, to meet the constitutional test of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” an offense would have to be “a major crime against the body politic.”
Feb. 19, 2002: The Diocese of Manchester holds a lunch meeting in Concord for all the Catholic priests in the state. Although no agenda has been set by Bishop John McCormack, most priests interviewed said they expect him to address the news that has shaken clergy and parishioners alike: 14 priests, whose name the diocese released last Friday, have been accused of sexual misconduct with children over the last 30 years.
Feb. 19, 2001: Two Vermont teenagers accused of killing two Dartmouth professors are arrested at dawn at a truck stop in Indiana. A local sheriff makes the collar after hearing a trucker say on his CB radio that he’s giving a ride to two boys trying to get to California.
Feb. 20, 2003: The House votes to let the state bypass local voters in establishing a limited number of charter schools.