History Of The Little White Church and Cemetery Tour

The following was prepared by Keith Henney and Joan Simonds as part of the 1979 centenary anniversary of Eaton’s Little White Church.


Little White ChurchFor a half century before the graceful Little White Church of Eaton was built, the community near the church’s location had been practicing the favored religion of the time.
These people were Freewill Baptists, a denomination as native to New Hampshire as the white pine. Founded in New Durham in 1780 by Benjamin Randall, its tenets were carried by the founder himself on foot and on horseback deep into his native state and into Vermont and Maine. In our rocky long-wintered country it found ready acceptance; it fit the people like a tailor-made suit.

This was a serious religion, an emotional, evangelical, “experimental” religion; a convert had to experience God to become a member of one of its many groups, each of which called itself a church. Baptism was by immersion and the rules of the faith and practice came direct from the Bible. Written sermons were taboo; they were to come straight from the heart of the minister; in few churches was instrumental music allowed. Especially prohibited was music made from wooden instruments like the fiddle which might incline feet to dancing. To remain in good standing its members had to tread a narrow path and any one of numerous possible infractions of its rules could (and did) call for a visit from an appointed committee, or a summons before the group as a whole, to make an accounting or amends.

The gentle founder, originally a Congregationalist, had been converted by George Whitefield but he soon rejected many of his former beliefs such as the damnation of infants, the total depravity of man, the doctrine of the elect and the tenet that only an educated man could interpret the Word of God. To the old hellfire, predestination-minded Calvinists the Freewillers were completely obnoxious, along with the Quakers.

One of the chief guardians of the more ancient religion, Timothy Dwight of Yale, felt that the ignorance of the Freewill Baptist minister was an “evil of incalculable magnitude”, but neither he nor the other Calvinist theologians in New England were able to do much about it. College graduates had shown no overwhelming desire for pastorates in the back woods and most of those who tried it were not successful; the exceptions were usually boys from the farm.

The time had gone by when such heretics as the Freewillers could be sent into exile. Dwight and his ilk could only hope that, once started west, such people would keep on going until they were out of New England. The Freewillers did not accommodate them. They settled down in many a New England town and flourished. By 1880 there were 9202 Freewill Baptists in New Hampshire, and in August of 1979 there were still Freewillers practicing their faith in Carroll County.

The local minister, the Elder, was apt to be a friend down the road. If he walked in the footsteps of the founder he accepted no pay. Small congregations were scattered over the countryside, here and there, each served by its own elder or by an itinerant minister. Local meetings were held in homes, barns, taverns or schoolhouses, but if weather permitted and if a noted revivalist appeared, the meeting was held out of doors with Elder on a stump, a stone wall, or a gravestone if nothing else presented itself.

A hike of six, ten or even fifteen miles for some of the attendants was not uncommon. Men sat or stood apart from the women; a sound precaution, for the meetings often threatened to get out of hand in response to the emotionalism of the sermon or the experiences related by the audience. Fellowship reigned, loneliness vanished, repressions found outlets, and the gnarled farmers and their wives went home feeling that they were not living in exile. God at least was with them.

It was a new thing in the early days of Eaton for a minister to come to the congregation instead of making the congregation go to him. It was a hopeful religion; heaven was open to everyone. Thus it was natural that by 1826, when the written record of the Little White Church begins, three separate Freewill churches has been formed in Eaton. In that year, a group of Eatonites “met this day according to appointment for the organization of a church at Mr. (Jonathan) Kenison’s barn, opened the meeting by prayer & Supplication to God for his assistance in the procedure”. Here, over on the Eaton-Brownfield boundary, began what the founders called the Third Freewill Baptist Church in Eaton. The numbering system of these early congregations is a bit confusing (there was more than one “first” church), but the numbering does not matter. The Eaton church was on its way.

The group which met in the Kenison barn on September 8, 1826, 104 of them, agreed that the organization should consist of two sections called “conferences”, collectively to be known as the Eaton and Conway Church, that one group would meet at the schoolhouse near Silas Ward’s (on Stuart Road), and the other at Mr. Lovett’s in Conway (near the Eaton-Conway line). They agreed “unitedly to stand together heart and hand to serve the Lord and the Church”. The names of those 104 (men and women listed separately, of course) are set down in the first book of record and among those names are ancestors of present Eaton families – Atkinsons, Beans, Bryants, Brooks, Shackfords, Thurstons.

Other Freewill Baptist groups were organized in Eaton during the next fifty years or so, usually in places where people tended to build houses more closely together. Individual conferences waxed or waned or split apart over differences which could not be patched up.

For the devout these Freewill churches filled the social calendar wit sermons, prayer meetings, baptisms in the lakes and ponds, suppers and Quarterly Meetings when members over a wide area came together for song and prayer. Then a great feast was prepared with the women trying to outdo each other with their chowders, cakes, puddings, cookies; too tired, probably, to sit through the long sermons.

In the old days when the local meetings were held in the second floor of Edwin Snow’s store (for many years the Eaton Town Hall) there was no need to be present at the church meetings. All one had to do was to open the house windows; the leather-tongued Elders, accustomed to preaching out of doors, could be heard as far off as the cemetery.

Aside from prayers and singing, not much gets noted in the records of the weekly meetings. Occasionally, however, a sheep would stray from the fold. Then the group went into action. “November 14, 1835 Met in Conference… Voted to withdraw fellowship from Brs. Flood and Joseph Atkinson in consequence of ‘disorderly walk'”. Disorderly was not defined; it could mean drunkenness, swearing, adultery, back-biting, working on Sunday, or non-attendance at church, but it was seldom spelled out. Still, on November 24, 1829, a difficulty was noted between Sisters Palmer and Hamilton about whipping a boy; another difficulty between the same sisters about the bars being left down and so on.

In an October meeting in 1847, Bros. S. S. Clark and W. Bracket were appointed a committee to visit Eli Drown to discuss with him “having dancing in his house and dancing himself”. The offending brother later said that he was not at all sorry for dancing. He was rejected from the church!

Existing records are pretty much matter-of-fact statement that people met, sang, prayed or could not meet because of the weather. Other sources make clear that the singing was strictly congregational, the Elder reading the first two lines of a hymn, then the congregation, “all that could and some that could not”, sang the lines. The Freewillers were serious about their devotions; they were not once-a-week on Sunday morning affairs; many an hour during the week was required, and the people had some bad times as well as the good; they had winter storms and periods of a “low state of religion”.

Through it all the Eaton people had their religion to hold them together in “good fellowship”; they “stood together heart and hand”. They held their meetings here and there and probably dreamed of a Little White Church of their own.

little white churchFinally, the matter came to a head. In 1878, Charles Robertson and his wife, Emma, offered the local group a patch of land adjoining the cemetery on which to erect a Church. A corporation was formed, a deed to the land was drawn up, the conditions of which were “such that so long as the corporation shall maintain a Church for religious purposes on said premises, this deed shall be valid. Otherwise, it shall be void”.
Specifications were put down, from the underpinning (“good stone, well split two feet wide of the usual thickness well set on good binders and there shall be eight suitable stone piers to support the center”) to the belfry (“a strong substantial structure sufficient to swing a bell of 2000 pounds weight”). The complete specifications may be found in pages 106-109 of “The Eaton Records”, published in 1972.

Robert, Henry and Charles Robertson agreed to build the structure and to complete it before June, 1879. They were to get $1200 for the job “to be paid by the subscription list for the 40 pews at $25.00 each”, and the rest from money in the treasury and from “subscriptions collected by the Robertsons at their expense”. The pews were to be like those in the Church at Conway except without doors and except the rail and arm to be of oak, ash, maple, black or yellow birch. Many of the pew holders worked out their obligations and the carpenters, stone experts and others were named Drew, Head, Hatch, Paul, Robertson, Russell, Shackford, Snow and Stuart. Among other bills was the architect O. L. Hurd’s fee of $2.00.

The Church did not cost much by our standards, about $2000, and annual subscriptions brought the debt down to $256.00 by 1891 after which the Robertson family took over the debt to balance the books finally.

Upkeep for the Church – oil for the lamps, wood for the stove, repairs to the building, the minister’s salary – was provided by contributions and by assessing the pew holders. The 1880 treasurer’s report showed the sum of $4.00; there was no money in 1882, but on hand was a cord and a half of wood. January 4, 1895: “Bal. in Treasury… $0.00”. The Church was not in the money-making business.

The structure was complete May 31, 1879, a few days ahead of time and was declared to be “a good structure, well build and of good proportion and admired by nearly every looker over”.


On January 30, 1904, a bell was purchased through the efforts of the pastor, J. W. Farrell, and was placed in the belfry followed by a dedicatory service of which there is no written record. Later notes mentioning the bell are ambiguous as they mention a “new bell” and it is now uncertain if this means that an unused (not second-hand) bell had been bought or if there had been a previous bell. However, the poem following was written for the occasion by an itinerant minister and read by Mrs. Georgia Hatch. It gives one the feeling that a happy time was had by all.

Little White Church

Little White Church Drawing

At the annual meeting in January 1880, the pews were assessed at 75¢ each and 18 people paid by wood, five by oil and six with cash. The following year the chimney needed repairs and 40 people contributed six, seven or eight cents toward the job. Forty-six gave an average of $1.50 towards a furnace and twelve gave oil and wood. In 1888, the Church was painted at a coast of $118.07. It must have been done by an expert with good old-fashioned paint because the next painting was in 1915.
A big cleanup occurred in 1925 with new roofing ($102.57), window repair, plastering and carpeting. By 1929, a new furnace was needed. It cost all of $215.00 and to help pay for it a whist party brought in $25.00.

Beginning in 1921, when Camp Wonalancet for boys was founded by the late Arthur W. Evans, and continuing until 1960, a weekly service was held at the Church, the boys singing as they left camp and as they returned. No records exist to show what songs the boys sang. During the early years, girls from Waukeela also attended. It is said, without confirmation, that the founders of the camp for girls was encouraged by the local people to locate the new camp (for girls) as far as possible from that of the boys. Later still, Crystal Lake Camp also used the Church for weekly services.

In the winter of 1933, the Rev. Mr. Moorhouse of the Conway Congregational Church came to preach. On his first visit the collection of $3.15 from the twenty-five present was given him. It was decided to give all the collections under $5.00 to him, with anything over that amount to go into the Church treasury. This could not have amounted to much as the average weekly collection in 1933 was $2.75.

Long before Eaton’s happy experiences with the Reverends Farrell and Moorhouse, the people had had other experiences with ministers. In April 1799, Eaton agreed that its pastor, Elder Mears, might preach part time in the Conway Church. Within two months, Conway had moved Mr. Mears into the Conway parsonage and there is nothing in the record to show that Eaton ever saw him again.

1933 was an active year. A Sunday School was formed with Mrs. Myron Allard as the Superintendent and Mrs. Helen Head as treasurer. A penny collection was taken. At Easter there was a solo by Beulah White (Bailey) and a duet by Mrs. Hiram Paul and Miss Grace Leavitt (the late Mrs. Herbert Morrison). Luther Dearborn (a Quaker) was the reader. Fifty-eight people “were out” and the Sunday School presented “The Dawn Immortal”, starring Junior Dearborn, Richard Paul, Beatrice DeWitt, Bobby Morrison and Zoe Head. The same year, in September, a harvest and baked-bean supper held at the Town Hall for the benefit of the Church netted $18.55 by charging adults 25¢ and children 15¢ each.

In 1935, the ladies of the Church had a table at Town Meetings selling sandwiches, doughnuts and coffee to help raise money for a quilt they were making and for electric lights for the Church.


LWC-Front-viewThe golden years of the Freewill Baptists seem to have been the period from about 1827 to the end of the Civil War. Then began the exodus of the people from their worn-out farms to the cities where there were jobs or to the West where the soil was deep and fertile.

By the end of the Second World War, the number of Freewillers in Eaton had dropped to a grand total of one and this was a lady well into her nineties.

What to do about the Church was debated at much length with several alternative solutions being possible. Finally, for $1.00 the Church was purchased from the Freewill Society to become the Community Church of Eaton, to be governed and maintained by an Association in which anyone could be a member.

Under the articles of agreement of the Sate of New Hampshire by which the Church was incorporated, the object “is to establish a non-denominational, non-sectarian religious group for the maintenance of religious worship, preaching and teaching the gospel and to maintain the truth recorded in the Bible; establish a place of worship; promote the spiritual, educational and community interests in the community of Eaton”, a document signed by Grace Morrison, Harry Ellis, Jr., Dorothy Russell, Cora Bean, John H. Fuller and Charles W. Hurll.

An annual meeting was to be held on the second Monday in August. At the first such meeting in 1947, Cora Bean, John Fuller and William Perkins were elected trustees; Arthur Evans, President; Harry Ellis, Jr., Vice-President; Grace Morrison, Secretary and Mrs. Joyce Fuller, Treasurer.

Two years before the incorporation of the Community Church (that is, in 1947), the late Rev. James Thornton Lodge had retired from the Episcopal ministry and had moved to Center Barnstead. His daughter, Mrs. John Edge, approached him with the thought of his conducting a midnight service in the Church on Christmas Eve. For a month before Christmas, the townspeople were busy. Birch bark candle holders were made, ropes of pine boughs were woven, postcards were sent to everyone in town. For this first midnight service, the Church was filled.

This observance was maintained for several years, if a priest could be obtained to conduct Holy Communion, and then it was suggested that an earlier service should be held for the children. Libby Edge (Mrs. John) wrote a pageant based on the Holy Birth which starred and continues to have as its finest performers, the children of Eaton. It is held every Christmas Eve and only once in the many succeeding years has the service been cancelled – this once because of a blizzard.

During the 1930s, a young boy, Bill Stevens from Canada, was a member of the camp for boys. Already he showed great promise as a pianist. After his boyhood passed, he returned to the camp as a counselor and again he played the piano in the Church. Then, for many years, as a concert pianist he came back to Eaton each summer to give a full-sized concert. In planning and handling these popular affairs, the Eaton Center Sewing Circle, as in many town matters, played an important role. The concerts were always standing-room-only affairs with many listeners enjoying the notes that came to them through the open windows.

A long-to-be-remembered occasion in the Church was the July 1976 Bicentennial observance with “Charlie” Hurll in his Revolutionary costume that he made himself, reading the Declaration of Independence.

This typical New England Church of a past generation has been a busy edifice. Many a wedding, baptism, memorial service or commemorative occasion has taken place within its doors.

So, for over 100 years the Little White Church of Eaton has been an emblem of people standing “together heart and hand”, an edifice known all over the world from countless calendars, jigsaw puzzles, placemats, postcards, snapshots and even from Cinerama. Many a New Yorker, hurrying through Grand Central Station to catch the old “State of Maine Express” for the north, had a lump in his throat when he was astonished to see in full color in the Kodak exhibit, the Little White Church of Eaton.

Here stands a small New England Church, a friend to all its citizens in times of sorrow and joy and known beyond the stone walls of our town to many as the “Little White Church”.


Acknowledgements:

“History of the Freewill Baptist”, by Normal Allen Baxter, published by the American Baptist Historical Society in 1957.

“The Life of Elder Benjamin Randall”, by John Buzzell, 1827.

 

 

 

EATON TOWN CEMETERY TOUR: OCTOBER 13, 2013

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We have two types of Points of Interest on the Tour:
a. Our Special Speakers who have agreed to share with you some personal and Eaton history, which is based on research. These are marked with numbers.
b. Some stones that we found interesting based on NO research, but only on the stones and our own imaginations. These have no Speakers and are marked with the alphabet letters.

A. Joseph Shackford

The longest living resident, he was 94 when he died, which was necessary, as he was married THREE times. Note that Wife #1 was Named Eliza Jane, AND Wife #2 was also named Eliza Jane. Also note that the two wives have traditional headstones, while Joseph’s is low to the ground. Where is Wife #3? Follow me, please.

B. Apphia Shackford

Joseph’s third wife. She is buried with her first, ex-husband, Roswell Harmon. Hmmm – somewhere there’s a story here.

C. Fannie Abbott Dana

Traditional headstone but possibly carved by a novice, or a special cult? Notice the reversed N’s.

D. Nancy Drew

This was pointed out by Nancy Burns, for all of the women here of a certain age, many of whom dreamed of being Nancy Drew. Incidentally, Nancy was the grandmother of Eliza Jane Sawyer, wife #2 of Joseph Shackford.

*1. William Robertson

He died in 1813 and was the first to be buried in this cemetery. He founded Eaton Center.
Mr. Robertson………
WILLIAM ROBERTSON (1759-1813)
I was born in 1759 in Scotland. My family moved to Saratoga, NY where I grew up and where I lived when War broke out in 1776. Feeling patriotic and being only 17 years of age, I rushed to join the Army. Unfortunately, I rushed too fast because I had enlisted with the British! They sent me off to Canada, near Montreal, where a lot of skirmishes were going on with the American Continental Army. So I slipped across the lines with the intent of joining the right army this time. They wouldn’t take me! They said if I was caught, I would be hanged as a deserter, so I should just get lost and head for the hills.

I headed south toward Conway, NH. I loved hunting and ranged over the surrounding countryside, eventually ending up near a pretty body of water. Once the War was over, I was able to buy 50 acres of land by this water from William Snell, who got it — and a lot of other parcels — in a tax sale when the original grantee, Nate Martin, never paid his taxes, or even came near it. So in 1784, the same year Eaton held its first Town Meeting, I became the first Pioneer settler and Landowner of what became known as Robertson’s Corner and Robertson’s Pond, and then in 1849, Eaton Center. Too bad they lost the Robertson name; they even fancied up the pond to Lake and at some point called it Crystal Lake.

I was 25 years old and ready to settle down, so I built a cabin, and married Elizabeth Conway from NY and started a family. I must have rushed too fast again, because after four children Elizabeth and I decided to go our separate ways. She felt too isolated, so she left me and the children behind. This time I slowed down a bit and married Lydia Allard, the woman I had hired to help with the children. Together we had eight more.

My youngest, Robert, was born the year before I died, but we know things here, and let me tell you, Robert and his two sons (MY grandsons!) Henry and Charles, make a man proud. They were instrumental in building the church here, a Freewill Baptist group whose religion reminds me of the high morals of the kirk in Scotland, but with the proper sense of individuality and respect for others expected from New Hampshire people who fought for liberty and the right to pursue happiness! Robert donated the land for the church and the three of them, Robert, Henry and Charles, were in charge of building. And a fine structure it is!

So just remember, don’t rush too fast and it will all work out!!

E. Lydia Robertson                                                                                                                                                                             Wife of Robert and daughter-in-law of William. Robert gave the land for the Little White Church and with his sons, Henry and Charles, was in charge of its construction.

Note Lydia’s inscription, “She did what she could”. That can certainly be interpreted many ways. We thank Edith Dashnau for showing us this.

*2. Daniel Russell

Revolutionary War veteran and Eaton’s first doctor

 Dr. Russell……….
DANIEL RUSSELL (1752-1837)
I was born in 1752, a fifth generation man of the American colonies. I lived in Rindge, NH when those nasty British redcoats fired on the true people at Lexington on April 19, 1775. I hurried off to enlist — took me four days to get to Cambridge, but it was in time to be part of the Continental Army and see action at Bunker Hill on June 17. When the enlistment time was over, we all went back home — until the fighting began in earnest. So in March of 1777 I reenlisted. This time I wasn’t so lucky. Just six months later a musket ball from those Redcoats found my side and back and sent me first to the hospital for a month until I could walk, and then home for good. Because of that musket ball, I couldn’t do much physical labor, so I had to go on the pension rolls for the rest of my life.Somehow I had the good fortune to end up in Eaton in 1812, where I later met and married my sweet Betsy in 1814. Though settlers had been slow to come to Eaton before 1812, perhaps because too many had heard the old saying,“God created the world in six days, and spent the seventh throwing ! ! ! rocks at New Hampshire”,the pace picked up after the War of 1812. I was able to buy some land — 250 acres — near the outlet of Robinson’s Pond (now called Crystal Lake), and with pension money and some doctoring (hey, they called me the First Doctor of Eaton in that fancy book by the Henneys!), I lived until 1837.I had a fine son, Thomas, born in 1821, who was 16 when I died. I’m proud that he, like me, was quick to join the Army when the call went out — for him it came from Pres. Lincoln. Thomas was 41 years old, which may have been why he caught a lung ailment, which killed him as sure as a bullet. As fine as it sounds to hear our titles of Private of the Revolution (Me) and Soldier of the Rebellion (Tom), they came at a high cost. I guess war always does.One of the major issues facing Eaton in those years was Roads. There were too many and too little equipment to keep them safe. The Town often had to pay damages that resulted from accidents due to poor conditions. ‘Course, I understand that even with fewer roads and better equipment today, you still have problems!

I guess another concern we had back then, taxes, is also still an issue. That and caring for the poor. Some things never really change…

F. Rufus and Betsy Head

One of the few early families with descendants bearing the original name and still in Eaton. The Heads lived — and live (you may know Tom and Terry) — in Snowville, so additional family members are in the Snowville cemetery. This is a good time to suggest that you visit that cemetery to see memorials to other important Founding Families, such as the Snows and Atkinsons.

*3. Nathaniel and Mary Palmer

Active citizens who started the Palmer House Inn, now the site of our beloved Palmer House PUB.
Mr. and Mrs. Palmer……..
NATHANIEL G. (1840-1899) AND MARY PALMER (1837-1921)
N: I was born in 1840, son of Nathaniel J. and Jane Robertson Palmer. They lived across the road from each other at Robertson’s Corner, so it was almost a case of “the girl next door”. I was one of the lucky few Eaton men to serve in the army during the Civil War and come back home. I married Mary Jane Day……..

M: Another reason you were lucky!
N: Yes, Dear. And we moved in next door to my parents in their small house on the corner. After they died, we had the idea to enlarge the original house by building a new Greek Revival, Victorian style home around it.
M: It sure was impressive looking. In fact, it still is!
N: Life was busy in Eaton after the War. Unfortunately, farming was poor, and many of the young people still around moved away.
M: But that left the women and another of your brilliant ideas!
N: The sewing machine was a great new invention. I bought fabric wholesale, cut it out with fashion patterns on the third floor of our house, and distributed the pieces to the women in the town to make clothes on their own machines in their homes.
M: Other men supplied pants and suit pieces, but it was the WOMEN who did the work! Why, Mrs. Charles White made 417 pants in 1886 for $67.33!
N: Also about this time we started seeing a new group of people — summer boarders, later known as tourists. They came to the White Mountains to get away from the heat and the hectic life of the big cities.

M: Eaton attracted those who wanted a quieter break than some of the fancier resorts, as well as the cheaper prices. We charged a dollar a day, as did the Robertsons, while the charge in Conway was FIVE dollars a day!
N: Still, the Palmer House was a successful business, even after you and I both died. My only regret, now that our beautiful house has once again become an attraction for boarders and people who dine out, is that room called The Palmer House PUB. You know how hard I worked for temperance.

M: Now, dear, these new folks enjoy getting together, and they don’t overdo it. Its mostly the food and atmosphere with those nice owners, Tim and Bobby…
N: Oh, all right. But the Free Will Baptists would never have allowed it. Speaking of which, in 1878-and ’79 we helped my Robertson uncle and cousins with the new Church by subscribing to purchase four pews. And while you people here may call it “little” (Little White Church), it was plenty big for us. Yes, a worthwhile endeavor…….

M: You stayed active for years as one of its leaders!
N: In 1893 Eaton finally got its first Free Public Library. The Selectmen appointed Luther Dearborn, Eugene Hatch and me as trustees……….
M: And YOU were the first Librarian!
N: It may have been because we also offered space in our house for the first year without charge.
M: Don’t forget that for awhile the post office was here as well.
N: Yes those were the days, dear Mary, those were the days.
M: Until 1899, when you died and left me to continue running the Palmer House on my own.
N: You did have the help of our children, who continued for 14 years even after you died in 1923.
M: Yes, you’re right, dear. We really were blessed, with Eaton, each other and our family.

LOWER CEMETERY

*4. Albert Paul

A Civil War veteran who lived in what is now JoAnn Kelly’s house, right up from Robertson’s Corner — and the Pub. ! Mr. Paul………..
ALBERT PAUL (1846-1927)
I was born in Eaton in 1846, greatgrandson of the famous Gen. Eli Glines of Revolutionary War times. Eaton had grown pretty large by the time I was born, with a population of 1,743 in 1850. Then came the Big Divide. No, not the Civil War, but the split between Eaton and Madison! After Madison became its own town, Eaton’s population dropped to 780 and has only gotten smaller over the years.

Then came the next Big Divide, with the Southern states splitting off in an attempt to make their own nation. I served in the U.S. Army against those Rebels, though as I didn’t turn 18 until near the War’s end, I was only there for a few months. It was long enough for me to end up in a field hospital in Petersburg with mumps and kidney disease, but on July 29, 1865 I was discharged and able to come home to Eaton.

A few years later I met Zylphia Thurston. We got married and I earned money by making wooden ladders in the winter for sale in the spring. Good thing Zylphia was an excellent cook — saved us from buying anything ‘ceptin’ staples, since we used mostly our own food that Zylphia grew and canned.

Our house had an interesting history. At one time it served as a stage coach stop on the road from Portsmouth to Conway. The kitchen was originally the town meeting house that was located on Glines Hill at the corner with Young Rd. In 1896 the town voted to get rid of it, so I paid $25 for it and hauled it by oxen down to my house at the bottom of the hill. It was attached to the back of the house as the kitchen and attached to the barn with an ell. Our daughter, Gertrude, and her husband Winfield Leavitt lived with us in our later years. They finally moved to Conway where we stayed with them in the winter. Our house in Eaton got mighty cold without central heat or insulation! I suppose the present owner, Joanne Kelly, has made a few changes.

Beginning in the 1860’s, cider was a favorite drink — hard cider, that is. Liquor was heavily frowned upon, the apple orchards planted by the earlier settlers had matured and produced bountiful crops, so it was a natural fit to make cider. Although the women weren’t too happy about all the home-brew, it was to be found at most gatherings — funerals, weddings, ordainings, church raisings, but not at Town Meetings. A side effect was the damage to the land. The pulp and drippings from all the cider mills affected the land’s fertility, taking as long as 60 years for recovery.

Well, anyhow, my niece, Mamie, daughter of Joel and Mary Paul, married Wollace Thompson in 1903 and lived in Snowville, where Wollace made and distributed hard cider. Unfortunately, when prohibition came along, this was illegal. That didn’t stop Wollace, however. He simply kept his jugs on a string line in Snow Brook behind his house. When a customer came by, Wollace would go to the creek and remove a jug from the line. The sheriff never did find that string.

When I died in 1927, my funeral service was pretty special. We were one of the original pew holders of the Free Will Baptist Church, I was the last surviving Civil War veteran of the Eaton enlistees, and I had also been a member of the Odd Fellows. The Odd Fellows ritual was performed and white doves were released after the graveside ceremony.

Yes, life was hard, but careful living and being in Eaton made it worth it.

G. James Morrison

Our newest resident, Mr. Morrison died this past March. Much of our information of the Paul family was taken from a memoir he wrote in 1991. He had mentioned even then that he was looking forward to being with his ancestors, back in Eaton. He is descended from the Glines of Glines Hill and the Fosses of Foss Mountain, as well as the Pauls of Paul Hill. Now he is in the spiritual cradle of Eaton Center, with no more hills to climb.

*5. Winnifred Dearborn Noon

As the daughter of Minnie Robertson Dearborn, Winnie Noon brings us back to the Robertsons, the founders of Eaton Center and forward to the present. She is buried in the lower section, a private area belonging to the Timberlake Family
Mrs. Noon………..
WINNIFRED DEARBORN NOON (1893-1986)

I was born in Eaton in 1893, daughter of Minnie Robertson and Luther Dearborn, in my grandfather Henry Robertson’s house, now the Timberlake house. My father’s work as a Quaker minister and farmer didn’t bring in much money, so we turned the house into a hotel to provide boarding for people who came to Eaton for vacations. My mother had a tea shop there, the Green Bow, that was known for its homemade ice cream. One summer day when I was sixteen, Theodore Noon, a tutor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, had been hiking up Mt. Washington and stopped by for some ice cream. It turns out he was the greatgrandson of John Atkinson from Snowville. Even though he was 18 years older than I was and very handsome, he fell in love with me! He insisted I go to finishing school before we could get married, but as our marriage lasted over fifty years, it was worth the three year wait. It also gave him time to publish a book on The Origin of the Last Supper.

Much of our married life we lived in Cambridge, where Theodore taught Harvard students.This was also where we raised our four children, but we always came back to Eaton for the summers, of course. Once the train stopped coming to Conway, the boarding house business declined, so we started the Crystal Lake Camp for Girls at Eaton Center. This was in the house between the Little White Church and our house on the corner. Our daughter, Dorothy, who had married Dr. Timberlake, a physician from Massachusetts, was the camp director after I retired.

In 1971 Dorothy started her internationally recognized candy business, making barley sugar hard candy. Eventually she and Dr. Timberlake moved to our house full time, bringing the candy business with her from Massachusetts. Although their daughter, Faith, kept the business going for ten years after Dorothy died in 1998, the times had changed yet again, and Faith closed the business permanently.

Our son Robert followed after his father, attending Harvard University, Brown University, Boston University and Harvard Divinity School, where he received his theological degree and became an ordained minister. Robert chose to return to Eaton after he died in 2009. He is one of the most recent additions to our cemetery community.

My brother Claude owned the property beside this very cemetery. When he died, I put in a bid for it, but John Edge offered more and took it over for a beach and parking for his boarders up at Rock House Mountain Lodge on Ridge Road, right up from the Palmer House (now the Inn at Crystal Lake).

Although there have been many changes since the early settlers came, with few of their descendants now around, much of what makes Eaton so special still remains. Some of it is the land, with the hills and lakes, the serenity and peacefulness. But even though new people keep coming, they are drawn for the same reasons as the earlier groups, the sense of caring and community, and the importance of the land. We hope that you, the current living inhabitants, will treasure our town and keep it healthy for the ones who will follow you.

RESOURCES:

  • Nancy Malvesta, Eaton New Hampshire Cemetery Records with genealogic background material
  • Nella and Keith Henney, The Early Days of Eaton and The Eaton Record
  •  James Albert Morrison: Personal Memoir, written July 7, 1991

 

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