"October 17th- Pleasant considerable wind stirring. Williams called."
Plaistow Historical Society, Inc. 127 Main St. Plaistow NH 03865 USA The Plaistow Historical Society museum, houses in the former firehouse is filled with displays of our collection of local artifacts and genealogical information about Plaistow and its history.
"October 17th- Pleasant considerable wind stirring. Williams called."
Yesterday's diary from 1836:
"October 16th- Rather hazy morning. Lois and I went up to the Townhouse to meeting Rev. Mr Wheeler preached. Had a fine sprinkling of rain when returning."
"October 15th- Another pleasant day. D. Clough returned from Hopkinton having been absent three weeks. I went up to John Littles in Hampstead and bought two hundred weight of salt pork and paid him sixteen cents per pound for it. Very excellent pork and worth the money."
Diary for 1836:
"October 14th- A warm beautiful day. R. F. Williams called. Went to True Kimballs evening."
"October 13th- Rainy part of the day and becomes fairish in the evening. Snow fell in Hopkinton to the depth of four inches."
Isaac's diary for today in 1836:
"October 12th- A systematical storm from the Northeast with a very heavy wind."
"October 11 th- A raw cold windy cloudy day. Picked my beans and peas and gathered my beet seed and radishes &c &c."
Diary for today in 1836:
"October 10th- Fine morning. Skiving stock. Dug a few potatoes in the afternoon. They turn out very well."
Our Mark Foynes recently found this rare 200 year-old document in the donations from the estate of Alden Palmer. Alden was a long time member of the Society and the town's de-facto historian for many years.
It's rare to find a document this old in such great shape, not to mention so neatly written. You may have to zoom in to read it though.
It seems that the State had received many complaints about the condition of one of our main roads. It was "rocky, ruinous, rutty, broken and uneven". It was so bad that the "good citizens" of the State, "still cannot pass and repass in and through the said highway.... without great danger of their lives". It went on to say the town refused to repair the highway, so the State was summoning the town fathers to Superior Court in Portsmouth.
Based on the description of the road including the names of the property owners- James Eaton, Benjamin Bradley and Amos Sawyer- along the road, we believe the road in question was Old County Road. In fact, Amos Sawyer lived in the house that is now 55 Kingston Road at the eastern end of Old County Road.
What became of the court hearing, we don't yet know, but we suspect the town likely fixed the road. We're researching other records to find out.
So, when you all complain about pot holes on our paved roads this spring, be sure to remember how bad the old dirt roads could be, especially after a harsh winter.
"October 9th- Pleasant though not very warm. Mr Cross preached. Went up to Hampstead with True Kimball."
Interested in the 300 year history of Sweet Hill Farm?
A limited number of copies of “The Last Farm in Plaistow” are now available at the farm. All proceeds go to the PHS.
Just ask at the register.
"October 8th- A pleasant day. Went to the village with shoes. Got 180 prs Went down to L. Darlings in the evening."
Isaac's diary for today from 1836:
"October 7th- Pleasant day. Garland left here after staying more than a year. He is going to live at Salisbury point having hired a house and shop and will probably be married in the course of a few weeks. Our Gyles moved him down there. Garland was a good boarder."
"October 6th- Cold and windy. Garland went to the village with shoes."
Street of the Month – October 2020 – Haseltine Street:
Our “Street of the Month” for October is Haseltine Street, one of the shortest streets in town. (Only Ruth’s Way and Chadwick Avenue are shorter.) In fact, we’re betting that very few of you know it exists!
Haseltine Street is located at the southernmost end of Main Street; it’s that short street we all have to take to get to Route 125. It currently has no street sign and there are no houses or businesses with a Haseltine street address, though there is one house and two business buildings along it.
One house actually faces Haseltine Street, but has a street address of 4 Main Street today. It’s a small white two-story house on the north corner of Main and Haseltine, the one you pass as you make the turn toward Route 125.
Next to this house is Walgreen’s Pharmacy which has been there since 2013.
On the south side of the street is the back side of the former Mortgage Specialist’s building, now empty but in the process of big changes by the current owner. The Mortgage Specialist’s building is very historic, having been built in 1837 as the second North Parish Church. It sits on the triangle of land formed by the intersection of Route 125, Main Street and Haseltine Street. The point of this triangle is actually in Haverhill, MA.
The short road where Haseltine Street is today dates back all the way to the building of the first North Parish Church in 1730. That building was further south and the building actually straddled the state line (you could get married in the north end in Plaistow or in the south end in Haverhill!) But when the first church was built a lane was built behind it to close the triangle and to provide access to the farms on the north side of the lane.
The owners of the land to the north of the lane between what are now Main Street and Route 125 were the Peaslee family, as shown on the accompanying 1830 map. South of the lane was owned by the church, or meetinghouse as it was then called.
The first Peaslee owner was Elder Reuben Peaslee (1777-1840). He was called elder because he was an elder, or minister, in the Methodist Church. In 1837, his son Moses was chosen to be on the 3-man committee to supervise and plan the building of the second North Parish Meetinghouse. Reuben and his son gave $175 toward the costs of construction.
Elder Peaslee was somewhat active in Plaistow town affairs in addition to his Methodist ministerial duties, He was both a selectman and a town representative a few years. The Peaslees took in both hired hands and borders in their big farmhouse. Of particular note was a boarder in 1831, Samuel Jordan who was both a convicted felon (unknown by the Peaslees) and a talented portrait artist. That year, Jordan painted the portraits of Elder Peaslee and his wife as well as their son Moses and his wife. Those paintings are shown in the accompanying scans.
You may recall that Jordan also painted the portrait of none other than our daily diarist, shoemaker Isaac Merrill, who sat for it at the Peaslee’s. That portrait is also below, though Isaac wasn’t keen on whether it was close likeness of him.
In 1840, Elder Peaslee died at age 63 of liver disease, leaving all his farm to his wife Sally. His estate was a huge one for that time- valued at over $12,000 just in personal including $4,200 in farm animals and tools and over $7,000 of stocks in local banks. His farm was 65 acres stretching north from the lane behind the church.
After Reuben’s death, his widow Sally lived on the farm with their only son, Moses Flint Peaslee (1801-1868). Moses was very active in Plaistow town affairs, serving as town clerk, moderator, selectman and town representative, the latter office five times. He also succeeded his father as the second postmaster for Plaistow. Although he was primarily a farmer on the Peaslee land above the lane, he also built a brick store right on the lane next to the farmhouse and ran it for many years in the 1830s through the 1850s.
Moses was also a close friend of our daily diarist, Isaac Merrill, who lived just south of the state line near the Peaslee’s. They often called on each other, went fishing together, worked on church affairs and played music in a band together (Isaac on fiddle and Moses on some unknown instrument. Rehearsals were held at the Peaslees above the lane.
Moses’s wife was sally Bradley of the Bradley family who owned the large farm just to their north. In 1848, their daughter Martha married William Haseltine of Haverhill. In 1853, the Haseltines moved into the Peaslee farmhouse on the lane behind the church.
After Moses’s mother Sally Peaslee died in 1862, Moses decided to move to Newburyport and sell the Plaistow farm. He closed on the sale to his son-in-law William Haseltine (1812-1883) in May of 1863.
William Haseltine (sometimes spelled with a “z” as “Hazeltine”) and his wife Martha Peaslee had six children, two girls and four boys, who grew up on the Haseltine farm above the lane in the mid to late 1800s.
The Haseltines also now owned the brick store behind the church formerly owned and run by Moses F. Peaslee. They rented it for a few years, then, in 1868, took the store down.
That year, they also decided to raze the old Peaslee farmhouse. According to Isaac Merrill’s diary, the carpenters finished the new farmhouse in January of 1869, and the Haseltines moved in on January 14th. A large barn was built that summer, measuring 50 feet by 40 feet. The next year, they built a blacksmith shop and also seven sheds “for use of those who attend church here” (for parking their horses and buggies). These sheds can be seen on a few later pictures as described below.
In 1870, the Haseltines built a second house 40 rods (640 feet) further north of the new farmhouse.
In 1880, William (68) and Martha (56) appear on the census for Plaistow with four of their children who were helping run the farm. In 1883, William died at 71 of heart disease, leaving the homestead farm to son Charles with the usual rights to his wife to live there and be taken care of in every way. The 1883 tax records list 39 acres for the farm in Charles’s name. William’s will is shown in the accompanying scans.
In 1883, Charles Haseltine married Mary Sawyer from Plaistow. They lived in one house and Charles’s mother Martha in the other.
On the 1885 directory for Plaistow, the Haseltines were listed as being on Main Street, though their farmhouses technically fronted the lane that would later become Haseltine Street.
In 1891, daughter Mary Ann married Arthur Sawyer, brother of Charles’s wife Mary. They moved in with widow Martha.
On the accompanying 1892 map, the two farmhouses are shown above the lane and the church with the west-most house listed as “A.W. Sawyer” and the other as “C.H. Haseltine”.
About this time, the accompanying iconic picture of the North Parish Church was taken from high up in the Merrill barn located on what is now Cushing Avenue, looking north. That great picture shows the Haseltine’s two houses and their barn to the left and behind the lane and the church. Even better, our local TD Bank commissioned an artist to paint this picture in a colorful mural that now hangs at their branch down Route 125. We have included scans of the mural here.
Also accompanying this post are a few other old pictures of the church showing the houses and the sheds behind it.
In 1904, Charles Haseltine sold a number of acres and the west-most farmhouse to his sister and brother-in-law Mary Ann & Arthur Sawyer. Their mother Martha continued to live with the Sawyers (she died in 1910 at age 86 of pneumonia).
On the 1901 directory of Plaistow, both Charles Haseltine and Arthur Sawyer are listed as living at “Westville Road” the new name for what soon was changed to Danville Road or Hampstead Road, then Route 125 in 1953. The Sawyers and Haseltines lived in the two farmhouses along the lane for many years. They appear there on the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.
By 1930, Arthur and Mary Ann Sawyer divorced, but Mary Ann continued to live in the farmhouse along the lane that was now called “Church Street”. Charles Haseltine still lived in the other farmhouse, though he lost his wife in 1927.
Brother and sister, Charles Haseltine and Mary Ann Haseltine Sawyer sold their houses and land in 1936 and 1938 respectively, Charles just before his death in 1937 at age 82 and Mary Ann’s estate sold her 35 acres in 1938 just after her death at age 76.
By this time, most in town were calling the short lane “Haseltine Street” for the Haseltines that had lived there since 1846.
4 Main Street House & Property:
Charles’s smaller ½ acre property on the corner of Haseltine and Main (now 4 Main Street) was deeded in 1936 to his niece, Cora Haseltine (1877-1962), the daughter of his brother, William Haseltine, Jr. By this time, the original 1869 farmhouse was gone, replaced in 1920 by the current two-story house there today. Cora was a spinster school teacher in Haverhill who taught there from 1907 through 1940. She stayed in Haverhill and rented the house until 1946 when she sold it to Marshall & Dorothy Palmer for $2,000.
The Palmers would live there over 40 years. We don’t know much about them other than they both worked in Haverhill shoe shops. Dorothy died at age 82 in 1984, then Marshall sold the house in 1988 to Daniel Pelletier for just over $21,000. A plan that Palmer had drawn up shows the house and the property sub-divided into two lots, but that subdivision was never was accomplished. The plan lists the street as both “Haseltine Street” and “Old Road (leading to Danville Road)”.
After Pelletier sold it in 1999, there were three more owners until in 2005 the bank foreclosed on a $190,000 loan to Tina Mitchell and the bank ended up selling the property in 2009 for $52,500 to current owners, Darlene & Raymond Boudreau.
The Boudreaus have lived there ever since, but Darlene recently told us they have the property under contract.
3-9 Plaistow Road:
Meanwhile, back in 1938, the 35 acres and the west-most farmhouse above the lane were sold out of Mary Ann Haseltine Sawyer’s estate in 1938 for $4,000 to J. Stanley & Rilla Light. The Lights then sold it to Abraham Steinberg of Lawrence in 1946 for $7,000.
Abraham Steinberg sold it to Jacob Steinberg of Methuen in 1949 who sold it in 1953 to Albert Hoyt of Plaistow who lived nearby on Chandler Avenue and owned a number of properties in the area.
It was Albert Hoyt who then developed the Hoyt City Plaza on the east side of the new Route 125 in the 50s and 60s. While a number of businesses, including Custeau’s supermarket, the Giant Department Store and Pine Tree Gift Shop were built on the land, the old Haseltine farmhouse remained there until some time after 1971 and was gone before 1974, based on aerial photos.
An accompanying 1977 plan for the Hoyts shows the businesses then in the plaza, but no house on the corner.
In 1981, Hoyt sold the shopping plaza and the land on the corner of Haseltine and Route 125 to another developer named Bronstein, Fokar & Miller for $900,000. Bronstein’s 1981 plan showed more detail on the stores, plus gas pumps on the corner of Haseltine (where Walgreen’s is today), but this was superseded in 1984 with a plan for a row of strip mall stores there.
In 1984, real estate values had soared and the updated plaza was sold by Bronstein to Chestnut Hill Realty for almost $5 million. Two years later, with improvements and new stores, Chestnut Hill Realty sold to C& A Realty for over $8 million, and they then sold it in 1988 for to Mitchell Robbins for $12 million. Robbins sold it in 2005 to current owner Taurus Plaistow Investors, LLC for $15.3 million.
In 2012, plans were made to build a Walgreen’s in the plaza and in 2013 it went up. See accompanying aerial from 2013.
North Parish Church property:
This triangular-shaped property on the south side of Haseltine Street was owned by the North Parish congregation from the early 1700s up until 1951. As stated at the top of this post, the building was a real estate office owned by Mortgage Specialists until very recently (2017). The State of New Hampshire acquired the property that year as part of the large settlement against Mike Gill who ran Mortgage Specialists.
The State then sold it in early 2019 for only $250,000 to a developer from Manchester named Dick Anagnost. His company is now trying to redevelop the lot for commercial use, but they have been stymied so far by our Zoning Board of Appeals. Many in town signed a petition started by Mo Morrill against the approval of the company’s plan to tear down the old church building and replace it with a modern structure.
The old church building was originally built in 1837 as the North Parish Church replacing the original church which was a little farther south on the same property and was built in 1730. The second church operated as a church and a community center up until 1951 when it was sold to a developer who then sold it to John Parkman in 1955.
Parkman ran his chiropractic clinic there for 43 years, then sold the property to Mike Gill of Mortgage Specialist’s in 1998.
One of the old deeds described the property as follows:
“A certain piece or parcel of land with all the buildings thereon, situated in said Plaistow, containing one-half and acre, more or less, and bounded as follows, viz.: Beginning at the corner of the highway leading from Hampstead to said Haverhill [Route 125] near the store of Moses F. Peaslee and thence running on said highway to the line separating said State of New Hampshire from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts aforesaid, thence running on said line to the road leading from said Haverhill to Exeter in said County of Rockingham [Main Street] thence on said road last mentioned to a cross way passing in front of Moses F. Peaslee’s store [now Haseltine Street] from the said Hampstead Road [Route 125] to the said Exeter Road [Main Street] and thence on said crossway to the bounds first mentioned.”
Today, the property and grounds are deteriorating, awaiting the next move by Mr. Anagnost. There is a for rent sign there now along Route 125, so maybe a business will occupy the building in the interim. We certainly hope the historic building is not torn down!
127 Main St
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