Milton in the News – 1885

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | March 28, 2019

In this rather full year, we encounter Noah B. Thayer, who would become later a major Milton employer, the return of the Rev. Frank Haley, a series of burglaries by a criminal gang, a sudden freak death, a local student of poetry and elocution, yet another Milton mill fire, and a remembrance of recently-deceased Milton Mills merchant Bray U. Simes.

Here we find Noah B. Thayer, of Fogg, Shaw, Thayer & Co., of Boston, MA, receiving an “assignment” from a bankrupt wholesale shoe dealer.

A Heavy Shoe Failure. Fellows, Shaw & Raymond, wholesale dealers in boots, shoes and rubbers, 159 and l61 Pearl street, have made an assignment to N.B. Thayer, of the firm of Fogg, Shaw, Thayer & Co. of this city. The liabilities amount to about $100,000, and the assets are nominally in excess of that amount. There are contingent liabilities of $15,000 or $20,000. A meeting of the creditors has been called for Saturday, April 18 (Boston Globe, April 15, 1885).

N.B. Thayer & Co. would set up shop as a Milton shoe manufacturer after the Milton Mills Shoe Strike of 1889.

New Hampshire. Milton Mills. Rev. J.L. Sewall accepts his call to this church. Milton. Rev. Frank Haley has accepted a call from this church, and began his services two weeks ago. All are glad at heart to recall our pastor of years ago, and hope the time is far distant when he will make another change (Vermont Chronicle, June 12, 1885).

Rev. J.L. Lowell actually went to Milton, VT. Rev. Frank Haley returned from his time away in Boscawen, NH, to begin his second pastorate at the Milton Congregational church.

Milton suffered a rash of burglaries in this year. Without more information it is difficult to say much more about the criminals, who seemed to have been based in Rochester.

One interesting aspect was the apparent ease of escaping from the local lockups. And that, as the proverb goes, there seems to have been little “honor among thieves.” Hamilton rolled right over on Smith, and more disclosures seemed to be expected.

Robbers in Dover. DOVER, N.H., June 22. – Several robberies have occurred around Milton, N.H. Saturday, one of the parties, Ed Hamilton, was traced to East Rochester. He was arrested, but escaped. and was again recaptured and locked up in Rochester. James Smith, another of the gang, was captured on account of information given by Hamilton, but he escaped Sunday from the lockup and has not yet been recaptured. Hamilton is held for breaking and entering and stealing five watches, three revolvers, jack-knives, etc.. He was tried at Rochester this morning and held in $1000 bonds. He was brought here to jail today by Sheriff Greenfield in default of bail. It is thought there are more in the gang who will be “given away” and captured (Boston Globe, June 23, 1885).

To the extent that these burglaries were a random sampling, it would seem that Milton had three revolvers for every five watches. The court proceeding mentioned would have been an arraignment, rather than a “trial.”

Summary of News. A gang of burglars have lately been operating in Milton, N.H. Ed. Hamilton was arrested last Monday evening, and several gold and silver watches and some money were found on his person. Another man was also arrested (Argus & Patriot (Montpelier, VT), June 24, 1885).

One of Luther Hayes’ farm laborers was killed by a freak lightning strike while sitting at a table inside the Hayes house in West Milton.

A Man Killed in Milton, N.H. DOVER, August 1. – Last evening a heavy thunder shower visited Milton, N.H. Mark Dore, who works on the place of Hon. Luther Hayes, was sitting at a table when a bolt struck a tree in front of the house, caromed in through an open door and struck him on the head, instantly killing him and discoloring the body. The other inmates received slight shocks from the electric current. The house was not damaged (Boston Globe, August 2, 1885).

Despite the victim being identified as a man called Mark Dore, only fifteen-year-old Charles S. Dorr died in Milton on the named date. He died in Milton, NH, July 31, 1885, aged fifteen years, seven months, and seventeen days, son of Steven D. and Melvina F. [(Staples)] Dorr.

Stephen D. Dorr, a farmer, aged forty-eight years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Melvina F. Dorr, keeping house, aged thirty-six years (b. NH), and his children, Emily F. Dorr, at home, aged nineteen years (b. NH), Rosa Dorr, at home, aged fifteen years (b. NH), Augusta Dorr, at home, aged thirteen years (b. NH), Charles S. Dorr, at home, aged eleven years (b. NH), Alphonzo Dorr, at home, aged seven years (b. NH), and Fred H. Dorr, at home, aged three years (b. NH). Stephen D. Dorr appeared in the enumeration between the households of Calvin Mason, a farmer, aged thirty-five years (b. NH), and James M. Breen, a clergyman, aged sixty years (b. NH).

Here we find Will Wilde – an apparent pseudonym – of Milton Three Ponds, receiving a reply to his inquiry for additional information about poetry and elocution.

Inquiries Answered. “Will Wilde, Milton Three Ponds, N.H.” At least two of the poems referred to are in the familiar elocutionist’s series known as “One Hundred Selections.” Send to the New England News Company. Boston, for indexes of these volumes (Boston Globe, August 22, 1885).

At this time, Milton had district schools, which would take a student up through what might now be considered an early Middle School level. We have mentioned before some of the standard textbooks used in them: Milton’s Arithmetic Textbooks of 1878.

Plummer's Ridge District No 1 Schoolhouse
Plummer’s Ridge District No. 1 Schoolhouse

Right up through the late nineteenth century, district school teachers might not have been much older than their students (as with the Milton Teacher of 1796-05, who began teaching at thirteen years of age). We might think of the fictional Miss Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. (Anne with an “e,” thank you).

Most students who completed their district school educations went directly to work or into apprenticeships. (One need only look at Federal Census schedules to confirm this).

We have put forward some few examples – published in our Puzzle category – of Milton district school students reveling in their mastery of mathematical challenges: Puzzle #10: J.O. Porter’s Cork Problem and Puzzle #11: T.C. Wentworth’s Problem.

Milton had no public high school, although it did have a private one, the Milton Classical Institute, which had been established in 1867. The Institute’s student body would have been small, comprising only the few students that wanted further education, perhaps intending to go into one of the professions, and who were able to pay the freight (or obtain a patron). Its students might have gone on to college thereafter, but not necessarily.

(Milton had also for a time a private subscription library, the Milton Social Library, which opened its doors in 1822).

The Nute High School & Library would open its doors in 1891 but, even then, not all of Milton’s district school graduates would have gone there.

Obviously, education is never complete. One of its purposes is to teach you how to teach yourself. And the enterprising Will Wilde of Milton Three Ponds seems to have been working on that.

Isaac W. Springfield was born in Rochester, NH, October 27, 1823, son of Isaac and Clara (Blaisdell) Springfield.

Isaac W. Springfield, a woolen manufacturer, aged fifty-seven years (b. NH), headed a Rochester household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Clarinda [(Nutter)] Springfield, keeping house, aged fifty-eight years (b. NH), and his children, Jennie E. Springfield, at home, aged thirty-four years (b. NH), Fred A. Springfield, at home, aged twenty-eight years (b. NH), Hattie L. Springfield, at home, aged seventeen years (b. NH).

I.W. Springfield & Son appeared as woolens and blanket manufacturers in the Milton business directories of 1884 and 1887.

MISDEEDS AND MISHAPS. Isaac W. Springfield & Son’s woolen mill, Milton Three Ponds, N.H., was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire Saturday morning (St. Albans Daily Messenger (St. Albans, VT), [Monday,] August 24, 1885).

NEW HAMPSHIRE NEWS. A.W. Springfield’s woolen mills at Milton, Three Ponds, twenty-two miles from Dover, were struck by lightning early Saturday morning, and with the contents, burned to the ground. Fifty hands were employed there; loss $30,000 (Springfield Reporter (Springfield, VT), August 28, 1885).

In 1894, I.W. Springfield, then of South Wolfeboro, NH, was one of 1,150 manufacturers of “woolens and worsted goods, carpets, hosiery, and knit goods, wholesale clothing and cloak manufacturers, wool dealers, and commission merchants,” who opposed the Wool and Woolen Schedule of the Wilson Tarriff Bill. The petition originated at a mass meeting held in New York City, January 10, 1894, and was “referred” to a US Senate Committee. (The Waumbeck Company, of Milton Mills, NH, also signed the petition).

Clarinda (Nutter) Springfield died in Rochester, NH, January 6, 1888. Isaac W. Springfield died in Wolfeboro, NH, January 7, 1900, aged seventy-six years.

Bray U. Simmes, a prominent Milton Mills merchant, who appears to have retired about 1871-72, died there July 15, 1885. He is here remembered for his subtlety in detecting a sneak thief.

GLEANINGS. The death of B.U. Simes, of Milton Mills, recalls an incident that occurred about thirty years ago. He was a merchant and a very shrewd man. One day he discovered that his till had been robbed, and he resolved to say nothing about it to any one, not even to the members of his family. Some three months afterward one of his customers said to him: “Did you ever find out who took that money out of your till?” Mr. Simes replied: “I never have till now, but now I know it was you, as I have never told any one that I lost it.” And he made the man pay him the amount – Worcester (Harrisburg Telegraph, October 3, 1885).

Bray Underwood Simes was born in Portsmouth, NH, in June 1801, son of William Simes.

He married, circa 1827-28, Martha Spinney. She was born in Maine, circa 1809-13. She died between June 1880 and July 1885.

(The 1886 and 1891 dates on their gravestone are incorrect. He died in 1885, at which time he was a widower. Likely, an earlier soft white marble stone was replaced by the current granite one and the original dates were difficult to read).

Bray U. Simes set up as a merchant in Milton Mills as early as 1830. The Sixth (1840) Federal Census listed him as “engaged in commerce.”

Bray U. Simes, a trader, aged forty-nine years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. His household included Martha Simes, aged thirty-seven years (b. ME), Elizabeth E. Simes, aged twenty years (b. NH), William Simes, a student, aged eighteen years (b. NH), George Simes, a student, aged sixteen years (b. NH), Caroline Simes, aged fourteen years (b. NH), John Simes, aged twelve years (b. NH), Ann Simes, aged ten years (b. NH), Edward Simes, aged eight years (b. NH), Shadrach Simes, aged five years (b. NH), and Adaline Simes, aged two years (b. NH). Bray U. Simes had real estate valued at $1,500. His household appeared in the enumeration between those of James Parker, a weaver, aged twenty-five years (b. ME) and John L. Swinerton, a physician, aged forty-five years (b. ME).

B.U. Simes, a merchant, aged fifty-nine years (b. NH), headed a Milton (Milton Mills P.O.) household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Martha Simes, aged fifty years (b. NH), Elizabeth Simes, aged thirty-one years (b. NH), Ann Simes, aged twenty-one years (b. NH), Adda Simes, aged twelve years (b. NH), and John Simes, a merchant, aged twenty-four years (b. NH). Bray U. Simes had real estate valued at $1,200 and personal estate valued at $3,000. His household appeared in the enumeration between those of Elbridge W. Fox, a farmer, aged twenty-five years (b. NH) and [his son] George Simes, a house carpenter, aged twenty-seven years (b. NH). (His location seems to have been the same as that of 1850).

The youngest son, Shadrach S. Simes, of Milton, NH, aged nineteen years, enlisted in Company C of the Ninth NH Regiment, at Portsmouth, NH, January 5, 1864. He was captured on May 12, 1864, during the Battle of Spotsylvania, VA. He died in the notorious prison camp at Andersonville, GA, June 30, 1864.

His store and that of another son, John U. Simes, were two of Milton Mills’ “four regular stores” mentioned in the Vulpes Letter of January 1864, and they were both taxed as retail dealers in the US Excise Tax of May 1864.

Bray U. (or B.U.) Simes appeared as a Milton Mills variety merchant, or a dry goods & grocery merchant in Milton business directories of the years 1867-68, 1869-70, and 1871.

The last will of Bray U. Simes, of Milton, NH, dated February 3, 1879, devised $5 to each of four sons, George, William, John U., and Edward S. Simes. It also canceled $1,000 promissory notes that he held from each of the same four sons. He devised $2,000 to his daughter, Elizabeth E. Simes. (Other children, Shadrach (d. 1864), Caroline (d. 1868), Adaline (d. 1875), and Ann Simes (d. 1878), died prior to the drafting of the will). He devised all the rest, residue, and remainder of his estate to his “beloved wife,” Martha Simes (who would also predecease him). John T. French, Geo. Annable, and Charles E. Green signed as witnesses.

Bray U. Simes, a retired merchant, aged seventy-eight years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Martha Simes, a housekeeper, aged seventy-two years (b. ME), his daughter, Elizabeth E. Simes, at home, aged fifty-one years (b. NH), and his grandson, William C. Simes, works peddling fancy goods & c., aged seventeen years (b. NH). Bray U. Simes appeared in the enumeration between the households of [his son] Edward S. Simes, a carpenter, aged fifty-seven years (b. NH), and Ira Miller, a storekeeper, aged fifty-three years (b. ME).

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1884; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1886


Find a Grave. (2013, August 17). Bray U. Simes. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2011, February 28). Charles S. Dorr. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2017, October 30). Isaac W. Springfield. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2008, October 5). Noah Blanchard Thayer. Retrieved from

US Congress. (1895). Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States, for the Second Session of the Fifty-Third Congress, 1893-94. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, February 9). Andersonville National Historic Site. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, March 27). Anne of Green Gables. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, March 9). Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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