The tools of yesteryear’s trades
When assembling the Monadnock Treasures exhibit for the Monadnock Center at the Peterborough Historical Society, we asked the participating local historical societies and libraries to identify their town treasure, an object or set of objects that told an important story about their community. Industry is a major part of the region’s history and it was not a surprise that many of the participants identified industrial artifacts as the items that spoke to their community’s past.
Among the industrial artifacts in the exhibit is a brass steam whistle from Hillsborough that once called workers to the Hillsborough Woolen Mills established in 1880. At its height, the woolen mill employed 325 workers. The maker of the steam whistle touted it as more melodious than typical mill whistles. Nevertheless, the whistle was so piercing and could be heard from so far away that it also served as Hillsborough’s fire whistle until 1950.
In Antrim, the Goodell Cutlery Company was the most prominent industry in town for over 100 years. Goodell patented a “lightening apple-parer” and set up his cutlery shop in 1867. His business gradually expanded to include all kinds of cutlery, carving knives and kitchen tools. The company continued in operation until 1989 when Chicago Cutlery bought out the business. Chicago Cutlery continues to manufacture an apple-parer based on Goodell’s 19th century design. Goodell’s mill still stands along Antrim’s Main Street, a testament to the scope and size of this 19th and 20th century business.
Another artifact recording the region’s industrial past is a woolen sample book created by the Colony & Sons mill in Harrisville in 1885. The book contains bound samples of the mill’s fine wool cloth demonstrating the colors, weaves and thread counts in their production line. Like many others, Harrisville was a community dominated by its mills. At one point, 45 percent of the town’s population was employed in mill work. Fine woolens were manufactured in Harrisville until 1970.
Monadnock Treasures contains prized artifacts from 16 area historical societies, libraries and archives and will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wed.-Sat. until Thanksgiving. General admission to the exhibit is $3 (children under 12 free); no charge for members of any Monadnock Region Historical Society. For further information visit MonadnockCenter.org.
Michelle Stahl is the executive director of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture at the Peterborough Historical Society.
Upcoming Historical Society
and History Events in the region:
Hillsborough: Sept. 9, 7 p.m. Hillsborough Historical Society hosts Scott Edwards who will be speaking on antique clocks at the President Franklin Pierce Homestead. More information at hillsboroughhistory.org.
Peterborough: Sept. 14, 7 p.m. The Monadnock Center for History and Culture presents 75 Years Ago: Looking Back to 1938 with Lorraine Walker. The program is part of the Center’s 111th Annual Meeting program. Free and open to the public. More information at MonadnockCenter.org.
Bennington: Sept. 15, 1 p.m. George Morrison will present, Vanished Veterans, an illustrated introduction to New Hampshire’s Civil War monuments and memorials. Presented by the Bennington Historical Society, for more information call 588-4871 or email BHS@basicisp.net.
Hillsborough: Sept. 16, 7 p.m. Kevin Gardner, author of The Granite Kiss, will give an informal talk about the history, techniques and stylistic development of New England’s stone walls. The talk is sponsored by the Hillsborough Historical Society and will be held at the Franklin Pierce Homestead. hillsboroughhistory.org.