Dublin Historical Society readies for centennial celebration 

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Historical Society members moved two of Dublin's old town hearses from the Schoolhouse No. 1 building to the recently refurbished shed on the property. The hearses were used for burials up into the early 1900s. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/16/2019 7:56:21 AM

Dublin Historical Society members moved two antique horse-drawn hearses to the shed behind the Society’s museum, Schoolhouse No. 1, on Thursday.

The town hearses had been used by the town in the late 1800s through the start of the 1900s.

Co-President Lucy Shonk said they’d planned to move the hearses ever since they realized they would fit in the shed, which was refurbished and completed two days ago.

“You couldn’t do an exhibit about happy life things with the hearses right there,” she said, acknowledging that the hearses also took up a lot of space that can now be used for other exhibits.

“Are we waiting for the horses?” Sterling Abram quipped while waiting to move the winter sleigh hearse down the ramp and out of the building.

The sleigh’s front and back sled runners turn independently, allowing an impressively tight turning radius that came in handy in the days when sleighs had to weave between trees during maple syrup season – and on Thursday, as movers pivoted the sleigh into its new home.

Town blacksmith Washington Proctor made the sleigh for the town in 1872 and received $535 for his efforts – more than $11,000 today.

“It was a huge expense for the town,” said museum curator Rusty Bastedo. “Today, everyone tries to ignore death. Back then, it was a part of everyday life. People expected to die young.”

He said that, in such an environment, it made sense that the town would pay for high-quality tools involved in the process of death.

Bastedo said that the town likely used the sleigh for at least 40 years, certainly through 1900. He said the runners were necessary for winter travel: In those days, the Dublin area was almost entirely devoid of trees, and snowdrifts would sometimes make roads impassable for a week at a time. When they were navigable, they were icy – all the better for sliding logs to the mill. Bastedo said that, in the winter, the hearse would have delivered the town’s deceased to a mausoleum in the cemetery, where they would stay until they could be buried after the spring thaw.

“The newer hearse was obviously brought in for the summer people,” he said, referring to the second vehicle: a handsome, wheeled carriage with round glass windows and tasseled curtains, which came to the town in the 1870s.

Bastedo pointed out the lincrusta – an old-fashioned kind of linoleum made of linseed oil and wood flour – lining the floor below the driver’s seat.

Spectators peeked into the rear doors of the vehicles as they were moved, and children watched from the windows of the Dublin Consolidated School next door.

“Having moved it, do we get to use it ourselves when the time comes?” a volunteer joked.

The hearses had been stored underneath Town Hall until 1983 when they were moved down the road to the Schoolhouse No. 1.

“We put a hole in the side of the building to get them in, now we put a hole in the back of the building to get them out,” said Brian Barden, who helped to move the vehicles.

“In a way, this is a return to an earlier time,” Bastedo said, as hearses were historically stored in their own house at the cemetery.

Now that they’re situated in a new home, the vehicles will be fumigated for insects, as the sleigh was beginning to show signs of damage.

Shonk said that the museum will be closed while it undergoes further renovations, but it will reopen in time for next summer’s Centennial Celebration, which marks the Dublin Historical Society’s 100th anniversary.

“The exhibit for the celebration will be titled “My Dublin Story” and will feature Dublin resident’s stories and memories of their life in Dublin with their photographs,” she said. “The hearses will be able to be viewed once the Museum has been reopened.”




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2019 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy