Milton in the News – 1874

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | February 17, 2019

In this year, we encounter some large steer, the departure of Rev. Frank Haley, the reopening of the Brierly felt mill, the death of Rev. Daniel B. Goodwin’s adult daughter, and the destruction by fire of Milton’s entire business district.

AGRICULTURAL BREVITIES. James B. Downs of Milton, Three Ponds, N.H., has a yoke of red Durham steers, 4 years old, that weigh 4300 pounds (Vermont Record and Farmer (Brattleboro, VT), April 10, 1874).

This particular pair, or yoke, of shorthorn steer were notable for their great size and weight. A modern pair would be considered to be of “marketable” size at 2,300 pounds.

RELIGIOUS NEWS. Congregational. Rev. Frank Haley who has supplied the church in Milton. N.H., for the last four years, has removed to Macon, Georgia (Vermont Journal (Bellows Falls, VT), April 25, 1874).

Rev. Frank Haley would return to Milton for a second pastorate. He became also a trustee of the Nute High School and Library and its first librarian.

New Felting Mill. – The well-known and enterprising manufacturing firm of Messrs. E. Brierly & Son, Milton Mills, New Hampshire, whose felting mill was burnt on the 12th of June, 1873, has already rebuilt, and the new mill is one of the most thoroughly constructed establishments in the United States. It is already in operation, though not to its full capacity. Felting mills are not numerous in this country, but there is a steadily increasing demand for felt goods on account of their superior weight and durability. The Messrs. Brierly have been in business here for twenty years. Their new mill is brick-lined throughout, and every precaution has been taken against the recurrence of fire. There are nine tubs under the roof containing as many thousand gallons of water, with three hydrants and sprinklers in every room, so that in case of fire each apartment can be flooded almost instantly. There is also a vigilant watch on the premises. The mill stands just over the State line in Acton, Maine, on the Salmon Falls River, which supplies the Great Falls Manufacturing Company with water power. The river drains several large ponds. In case of drought the mill is provided with a steam-engine of 150-horse power. Wood is cheaper here than coal, costing only $4 per cord, and is used in the mill. The establishment bas 12,000 feet of steam and water-piping. Among the goods manufactured by the Messrs. Brierly are Petersham’s beavers, embossed skirts, table and piano covers, felts for lining India-rubber boots and shoes, Ulsters and over­ coatings, a soft flannel for children’s wear, etc., etc. The beavers are superior in weight and durability to the best woven cloths, and are of great beauty. They consist of drabs, dark greens, and blues, olives. Oxfords, dark olives, smoke browns, etc. The Petershams, Ulsters and other over­ coatings are water-proof, and of superior weight and stoutness. The cloth for boot linings is called “grizzly bear skin.” Messrs. Brierly & Son manufacture some $400,000 worth of felt goods annually and find a ready market for it even in these dull times. The felting machinery is English and of twice the working power of any American felting machinery. In the carding room are thirteen carding machines preparing the bats, and there are nine embossing presses printing the skirts, table and piano covers. Altogether Milton Mills, N.H., is one of the most enterprising villages in the Granite State, and its prosperity is largely due to the energy and public spirit of Messrs. E. Brierly & Son. It has several churches and is connected with the Eastern Railroad at Union Village by a coach (Boston Post, October 12, 1874).

DIED. In Somerville, Nov. 6, Martha S., wife of Benjamin Fitch and daughter of Rev. D.B. Goodwin of W. Milton, N.H., 33 yrs. 10 mos. (New England Farmer (Boston, MA), November 14, 1874).

Martha S. Goodwin was born in Middleton, NH, circa 1841, daughter of Daniel B. and Susan R. Goodwin.

Martha S. Goodwin married in Milton, NH, December 17, 1863, Benjamin Fitch, he of Boston, MA, and she of Milton. Benjamin Fitch was born in in Bedford, MA, September 20, 1838, son of Nathan and Louisa Fitch. Rev. Ezekiel True performed the ceremony. (True was then Free-Will Baptist minister of Farmington, NH; Rev. Daniel B. Goodwin was not yet fully ordained as West Milton’s Christian Church minister).

Benjamin Fitch, a provisions dealer, aged thirty years (born MA), headed a Somerville, MA, household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Martha Fitch, aged twenty-eight years (born NH), May Fitch, at home, aged three years (born NH), Louis Fitch, at home, aged two years (born NH), Charles Cotton, clerk in store, aged nineteen years (born NH), and Abbie Cotton, a domestic servant, aged sixteen years (born NH). Benjamin Fitch had real estate valued at $5,500 and personal estate valued at $8,000.

Martha S. (Goodwin) Fitch died in Somerville, MA, November 5, 1874, aged thirty-three years, ten months, and thirteen days. Benjamin Fitch died in Lexington, MA, in 1921.

Milton had a serious fire near the end of the year that destroyed its business district.

NEWS OF THE WEEK. Wednesday, Dec. 2d. A fire broke out about five o’clock this morning which destroyed the entire business portion of Milton, N.H. The losses aggregate $97,000, two-thirds insured. The principal loss is the Whitney House, which is $25,000, the remainder is divided among twenty-five losers in sums of $500 to $10,000. The insurance companies most heavily represented are the Home of New York, Hartford and Phoenix of Hartford, and the New Hampshire State (Buffalo Weekly Courier, December 9, 1874).

HARTFORD AND VICINITY. Brief Mention. The insurance companies have adjusted the losses at Milton, N.H., paying about $60,000; the Hartford loses $20,000, and the Ætna $1,500 (Hartford Courant, December 21, 1874).

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1873; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1875


UNH Extension Project. (2018, June 18). Raising Dairy Beef Steers in New Hampshire.

Wikipedia. (2018, August 1). Durham Ox. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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