Milton in the News – 1889

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | April 11, 2019

In this year, we encounter two Vermont ladies seeking work, a dreadful child, some horse trading, a grocery bankruptcy, the Carricabe paper mill restarting, and a Gloucester ice shortage being supplied at Milton.

(This was also the year of the Milton Mills Shoe Strike of 1889).

Here we find two Vermont ladies seeking work as “factory girls” in Milton. It might be that they were drawn by the Varney & Lane factory opening in Milton Mills at this time.

TUNBRIDGE. Miss Carrie Drew and Della Corliss have gone to Milton, N.H. to work in a shop ((Randolph, VT) Herald and News, January 2, 1889).

Della Corliss, at least, did not remain here. (Perhaps because of the strike). She went on to Massachusetts. She returned to her North Tunbridge, VT, home “for a while,” in August 1893, due to the financial Panic of 1893.

Several are coming here [North Tunbridge] from Massachusetts, on account of the shutting down of the factories (Randolph Herald & News, August 10, 1893).

Curious Condensations was this Pennsylvania paper’s standard heading for out-of-the-ordinary stories, of which this nationally-copied article was just one.

CURIOUS CONDENSATIONS. A mischievous youngster in Milton, N.H., saturated the tail of the family dog with kerosene and then applied a match. The dog ran off frantically, and, rubbing against a haystack, $150 worth of property was burned (Pittsburgh Dispatch, February 21, 1889).

Curious indeed, but “mischievous” hardly tells the tale. Horrible or monstrous would be more like it.

Milton farmers had always an eye for a good horse. Hiram V. Wentworth was taxed as a retail horse dealer and Enoch W. Plummer was taxed for his somehow-special stallion in Milton’s US Excise Tax of May 1864.

HORSE GOSSIP. Points from Track and Stable About Noted Flyers and Drivers. H.H. Berry, Milton Mills, N.H., has sold to F.H. Smith, Cambridge, Mass., the horse Forestwood, by Redwood, dam by Coupon (Burlington Free Press, May 3, 1889).

Hiram Hussey Berry was born in Milton, NH, in October 1853, son of Jonathan and Eliza W. (Hussey) Berry.

Hiram H. Berry, a farmer, aged twenty-six years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Mary J. [(Hanson)] Berry, keeping house, aged twenty-nine years (b. NH).

Milton horses are mentioned occasionally in accounts of agricultural fairs and stake races.

They Are Trotting at Saco. Saco. Me., June 19. The June races of the Saco Driving Association began this afternoon. Out of the 13 entries in the 2.50 class there were five starters. The bay gelding Barney L., owned by P.H. Lennon of Portland, won; bay mare Misfortune, owned by M. Leonard of Providence, was second; Kate R. of Biddeford was third; Blacksmith of Rochester was fourth; Iron Age of Milton Mills was distanced. Best time 2.40. There were five starters in the 2.35 class. Harry D. of Dover. N.H., won in three straight heats; Frank A. of Cornish second; Kite of Portland third; Gray Bunker of Portland fourth; Fannie W. of Falmouth fifth. Time 2.39. 2.36¾, 2.40. Tomorrow afternoon the 2.40 and 2.26 classes will be trotted (Boston Globe, June 20, 1889).

The following troubled Milton Mills grocery business (Pettingell & Brown) was not listed in any of the Milton business directories. There may have been a good reason for that. One of its partners at least, Henry A. Pettingell, seems to have been a peddler.

Henry Augustus Pettingell was born in Dedham, MA, January 13, 1854. son of Augustus T. and Sarah D. (Snell) Pettingell. He married in West Roxbury, MA, September 15, 1875, Phebe Bartlett Bailey Vinal.

Henry Pettingill, a dry goods peddler, aged twenty-six years (b. MA), headed a Dedham, MA, household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Phoebe Pettingill, keeps house, aged twenty-eight years (b. MA), and his daughter, Mary D. Pettingill, aged three years (b. MA). Phoebe Pettingill was suffering from the “disability” of being “pregnant.” (Their second child, Theodore T. Pettingill, would be born in August).

A peddler (or pedler or pedlar), as opposed to a storekeeper, would travel about the countryside in his wagon. (The guests at the Milton Mills Hotel in 1860 were nearly all pedlers). Here follow several contemporary advertisements for such rigs as they would have used.

PEDLAR’S TEAM – Bay French horse, good pattern, excellent worker, 8 years old, weighs about 1000 pounds, stands without tying, and is free from tricks, with light Concord express wagon, made for a pedler, without boxes, and harness (Boston Post, 1880).

FOR SALE. Light express wagon, suitable for grocery or pedler. 818 Shawmut av. (Boston Globe, November 18, 1889).

Daughter Mary D. Pettingell died in Weymouth, MA, October 6, 1886, which suggests that the family still lived in Norfolk County as late as that. However, the fourth child, Ralph D. Pettingell, was born in Acton, ME, August 8, 1889.

Pettingell’s partner, Mr. Brown, has not been identified. Their business was probably active in Milton Mills and vicinity between about 1887 and 1889. Mr. Pettingell resided in Acton, ME.

Business Troubles. Firms Forced to Assign Under Stress of Financial Storms. Pettingill & Brown, grocers, Milton Mills, N.H., have failed. They owe $4500; assets $2100 (Boston Globe, May 7, 1889).

PRESSED FOR TIME AND MONEY. Financial Embarrassments of Firms and Individuals. Pettengill & Brown of Milton Mills write THE GLOBE that the report of their failure is false (Boston Globe, May 9, 1889).


BUSINESS TROUBLES. Financial Difficulties Reported in Various Trades. The Boston creditors of H.A. Pettingell of the firm of Pettingell & Brown, grocers, Milton Mills, N.H., held a meeting in this city yesterday at the New England Furniture Exchange. The committee reported the liabilities as $4180. Assets, varied and uncertain. Mr. Pettingell made an offer of 25 cents on a dollar, and the committee recommended its acceptance. All present signed the composition paper (Boston Globe, June 6, 1889).

Henry Pettingell and family were back in Dedham by the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census, in which his occupation was given as grocery clerk. He died in Dedham, MA, in 1927.

John M. Carricabe’s Milton paper mill was running night and day in November 1888. After which it appears to have shut down for several months.

NEW ENGLAND NEWS. The paper mill at Carricabe’s works, Milton, N.H, will start again soon, after having been shut down several months (Londonderry Sifter (South Londonderry, VT), June 27, 1889).

A thumbnail sketch of Mr. Carricabe appeared in our last – Milton in the News – 1888 – to which one might refer for further details. He would be “remembered as the pioneer of the leather-board industry” (Nickelson, 1921).

Here we learn of yet another ice company, the Fernwood Lake Ice Company of West Gloucester, MA, obtaining a supply of ice at Milton.

ICE SCARCE IN GLOUCESTER. Dealers Obliged to Get Their Supply In New Hampshire. Gloucester, Nov. 15. There is a scarcity of ice in Gloucester. It is estimated that over 25,000 tons are taken from here each year by the fishing fleet and fresh fish houses, and at least 10,000 tons more are purchased in various parts of the maritime provinces. The demand is increasing and the sales this year have been greater than ever before. The Fernwood Lake Ice Company, with a house at West Gloucester having a capacity of 40,000 tons, has about 100 tons of ice in stock and are supplying their trade with ice from Milton, N.H. Inquiry at the office of Nathaniel Webster, who, with the Fernwood company, furnish the entire supply of the town, shows that Mr. Webster’s stock on hand is about 1000 tons, 300 of which is thick ice. This is the first time since the Fernwood company has been in business that the stocks have been so low. Within a few weeks it is probable that there will not be a pound of Cape Ann ice remaining unsold (Boston Globe, November 16, 1889).

The Kimball Brothers did not take up the proffered free Milton Mills factory in November 1888. The Varney & Lane company set up there instead.

MALE HELP WANTED. CUTTERS wanted on grain and gl. grain piece work, at VARNEY & LANE’S, Milton Mills, N.H.; also 3 good closers-on; come ready for work (Boston Globe, May 30, 1889).

Charles Wesley Varney was born in North Berwick, ME, July 30, 1838, son of Calvin and Eliza (Nowell) Varney.

He married Ellen N. Lane. She was born in Exeter, NH, November 17, 1840, daughter of Elbridge G. and Elizabeth M. (Moses) Lane.

Charles W. Varney, a shoe manufacturer, aged forty-one years (b. MA [SIC]), headed a Lynn, MA, household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Ellen N. Varney, at home, aged thirty-eight years (b. NH); his children, Louise N. Varney, at school, aged sixteen years (b. NH), Lucia D. Varney, at school, aged thirteen years (b. NH), Fred L. Varney, at school, aged nine years (b. MA), Ada M. Varney, at school, aged six years (b. MA), and Ralph W. Varney, at home, aged ten months (b. A); his brother-in-law, Elbridge G. Lane, a clerk in store, aged thirty years (b. NH); his boarder, Ida Lane, at home, aged twenty-eight years (b. ME); and his servants, Sarah Willey, a servant, aged sixty-five years (b. NH), and Maggie Healey, a servant, aged twenty years (b. Ireland). They resided at 7 Commercial Street in Lynn, MA.

The Milton Mills Shoe Strike of 1889 commenced against Varney & Lane in November 1889.

Charles W. Varney died in Westborough, MA, March 30, 1915. Ellen N. (Lane) Varney died in Winnetka, IL, February 17, 1928.

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1888; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1890


Find a Grave. (2010, February 21). Charles Wesley Varney. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2014, August 1). Henry A. Pettingell. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2006, March 8). John M. Carrecabe. Retrieved from

Nickelson & Collins. (1921). Leather & Shoes. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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