By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | December 20, 2018
Milton had over a foot of snow in late November 1842, which “much impeded” local travel.
Snow. At Milton, N.H., about 20 miles from Dover, the snow, ten days ago, was 14 inches deep, and travelling was much impeded in consequence (Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 8, 1842).
That would not seem to be an outlandish amount of snow for Milton, although it might have been a bit early in the season. (Such as we have had this year). Perhaps a run-of-the-mill news item for New England seemed more notable further south in Philadelphia.
No one plowed the roads. Some might travel by horse. For the few that possessed a horse and a carriage, they might now break out their sleigh. In the Christmas song “Over the River and Through the Woods,” the family is traveling by sleigh to Grandmother’s house. Larger places might have “rolled” their roads, packing down the snow, which would facilitate travel by sleigh.
Most would have simply trudged through the snow, either with snowshoes or without, or just stayed put where they were. Various church denominations reported low attendance and closures, sometimes for weeks at a time.
It was a good thing that they had earlier engaged in “making hay while the sun shines,” so they might feed their animals now. New England farmhouses frequently had the barn attached or connected to the house by an enclosed passage. No need to go outside.
They would have laid in a good supply of firewood before winter. Historians have estimated that the average Colonial-era household consumed an acre of woodland every year in their open hearths. Many households would by now have a Ben Franklin-style wood stove. Much more efficient. Smart guy, that Ben.