Milton in the News – 1896

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | May 19, 2019

In this year, we encounter an offer of a good home, a flood at the Spaulding homestead, the Lynn death of a Milton native, a troubled Amesbury shoe factory considering a move, a first-class cook wanted, the suspicious death of a traveler, non-union lasters being both wanted and warned away, and a drowning death.

(Milton Mills got a telephone exchange and its first telephones in this year. Milton did not get their first ones until 1898).

Male Help Wanted. WANTED – A boy about 15 or 16 years in want of a good home for the winter for board, chores on a small farm. Apply G.G., Milton Mills, N.H. (Boston Globe, January 6, 1896).

A boy of this age would have completed already his district school education. No pay is mentioned here, but “chores” are not a full-time job. The boy in question would be free to supplement this room-and-board offer with paid work elsewhere.

Townsend, MA, was the ancestral home of the Spaulding family. Here we find the Townsend house of Jonas Spaulding, Jr., suffering some flood damage. Jonas Spaulding, Jr., was the father in the J. Spaulding & Sons leatherboard manufacturing partnership.

TOWNSEND HARBOR. Many of the cellars of this village have been flooded this week, but, aside from this, little damage has been done hereabouts. The pond is as solidly frozen as any time this winter. The Conant House, recently occupied by Mr. Stackpole, was sold at auction Saturday. The property of the father of Spaulding brothers in Milton, N.H., was damaged several hundred dollars by the flood. Harry Wright, late with Frank Knight, is still at his home in Hudson, badly broken up, physically. He is not likely to be [- indistinct -] this season (Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, MA), March 6, 1896).

Leatherboard is made from a pulp of scrap leather and wood pulp. Spaulding Brother, later J. Spaulding & Sons, had factories in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including those in Milton and East Rochester. (Later, their largest factory would be established in Tonawanda, NY).

Two of the three Spaulding sons would go on to become governors of New Hampshire. Rochester’s Spaulding High School and the Spaulding Turnpike are named after them.

War Veteran Dies. LYNN, March 12. William Cook, 61, a war veteran, died today. He was born at Milton, N.H, enlisted for three months at Haverhill in the 8th regiment at the beginning of the war, and when his term had expired reenlisted in the 4th Massachusetts volunteers. He was a member of Washington lodge of Masons of Windsor, Conn., and of Gen. Lander post, 5, G.A.R., Lynn (Boston Globe, March 13, 1896).

William P. Cook was born in Milton, NH, April 26, 1834, son of William W. and Mary M. (Yeaton) Cook.

William W. Cook, a farmer, aged fifty-two years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. His household included Mary Cook, aged forty-eight years (b. NH), George H. Cook, a shoemaker, aged eighteen years (b. NH), William P. Cook, a shoemaker, aged sixteen years, Mary E. Cook, aged thirteen years (b. NH), Mark F. Cook, aged nine years (b. NH), Ira Cook, aged six years (b. NH), and Charles E. Cook, aged four years (b. NH). William W. Cook had real estate valued at $1,000. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of Elias S. Cook, a farmer, aged thirty-six years (b. NH), and Joseph Pearl, a farmer, aged years. They lived also quite close (same page) to the household of John T.G. Colby, a Christian B. [Baptist] Clergyman, aged fifty-four years (b. NH). Note too the child Mark F. Cook, who was likely a namesake for Elder Mark Fernald.

William P. Cook married (1st) in Lynn, MA, September 5, 1858, Margaret E. Rand, both of Lynn, MA. He was a cordwainer, aged twenty-four years (b. Milton, NH), and she was a shoe-fitter, aged twenty-two years (b. Europe). It was her second marriage. Rev. H.E. Hempstead performed the ceremony.

Wm. E. Cook, a cordwainer, aged thirty years (b. NH), headed a Lynn, MA, household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Margaret Cook, aged twenty-five years (b. MA), and Charles Cook, aged one year (b. MA). His household shared a two-family dwelling with the household of John P. Watts, a cordwainer, aged thirty-six years (b. NH). (Their son, Charles Herbert Cook, died of scarlet fever in Lynn, MA, May 20, 1863, aged four years).

William P. Cook, a shoemaker, married, aged twenty-nine years (b. NH), registered for the Class I military draft in Lynn, MA, in May or June 1863. “Class I comprises all persons subject to do military duty between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years, and all unmarried persons subject to do military duty above the age of thirty-five years and under the age of forty-five.”

William P. Cook, a shoemaker, aged thirty years (b. NH), and Margaret Cook, a shoe-fitter, aged twenty-seven years (b. NY), resided in the Lynn, MA, household of Thomas B. Wilford, an expressman, aged thirty-seven years (b. Marblehead), at the time of the Second (1865) Massachusetts State Census.

He married (2nd), after 1865, but before 1880, Essie J. Latham. She was born circa 1853.

William P. Cook, a shoemaker, aged forty-five years (b. NH), headed a Lynn, MA, household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Essie J. Cook, keeping house, aged twenty-seven years (b. England), and his boarder, Florence Rand, works in shoe factory, aged twenty years (b. MA). They resided at 8 Bickford Court.

William P. Cook filed for a Federal invalid veteran’s pension, June 24, 1884, based upon his service in the Fourth Massachusetts H.A. [Heavy Artillery] during the civil war.

William P. Cook of Lynn, MA, appeared in the surviving veterans schedule of the Eleventh (1890) Federal Census. According to that schedule, he had enlisted in Co. D of the Fifth Massachusetts Infantry, in April 1861, and had been discharged in July 1861. He had re-enlisted in Co. L of the Fourth Massachusetts H.A. [Heavy Artillery], in June 1864, and had been discharged in July 1865.

William P. Cook died in Lynn, MA, March 12, 1896, aged sixty-three years, ten months, and sixteen days.

The Lynn City Directory for 1897 listed William P. Cook, died March 12, 1896. It had also listed Mrs. William P. Cook, forewoman stitching, 95 State [Charles H. Ingalls & Co.], h. 16 Warren and Essie J. Cook, h. 16 Warren.

Essie J. Cook filed for a Federal widow’s pension, March 20, 1896, based upon her deceased husband’s service in the Fourth Massachusetts H.A. [Heavy Artillery] during the civil war.

Essie J. (Latham) Cook died in Lynn, MA, in November 1928.

The Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries chronicled Amesbury’s industries of 1895. The Lewis, Adams, & Co. firm, which was engaged in making slippers, became the Lewis, Gross, & Co. firm. The substitution of Gross for Adams might suggest a new partner with new capital, which might have been necessary if the firm were struggling and financially “embarrassed.”

THE WEEK’S NEWS. FRIDAY, MAY 22. The shoe firm of Lewis Gross & Co., of Amesbury, Mass., will move to Milton Mills, N.H. (Newport Mercury (Newport, RI), May 23, 1896).

Lewis Gross and Co. Make Assignment. AMESBURY, June 6. The slipper firm of Lewis Gross & Co. made an assignment this morning to J.T. Choate, a local attorney. An attachment was served yesterday which they could not meet. No statement is made. It is probable that the firm will resume operations and that the difficulty will be but temporary. This is the firm which was announced last week as being about to move to Milton Mills. N.H., where a factory was being built for them. It is understood, however, that one of the firm is favorable to remaining here and Pres. Chipman of the Merchants’ association and others are laboring to secure their remaining in Amesbury (Boston Globe, June 6, 1896).

An “assignment” is a transfer of asset ownership from a debtor to a creditor.

To Continue Business at Amesbury. AMESBURY, July 20. The slipper firm of Lewis, Gross & Co, which failed here two months ago with liabilities of $30,000, are to continue business here. It was announced this morning that arrangements had been perfected whereby the plant will be sold by the assignee to parties who will, in conjunction with Messrs. Lewis, continue the business. It is further stated that Mr. Gross will retire. Before the firm assigned reports were published that they were to move their business to Milton Mills, N.H, and the fact that they will continue here is hailed with satisfaction (Boston Globe, July 20, 1896).

Hailed with satisfaction in Amesbury, MA, no doubt, although Milton Mills must have been somewhat less satisfied.

The Milton Hotel (or Hotel Milton) advertised for a first-class cook, a female one.

Female Help Wanted. WANTED – To pay $1 per day for first-class cook, steady job. Milton hotel, Milton, N,H. (Boston Globe, June 29, 1896).

Hotel MiltonThe Milton Hotel appeared, under the management of E.M. Bodwell, in the Milton Business Directories of 1894, 1898, 1901, and 1904.

Charles L. Bodwell, a hotel keeper, aged forty-three years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Etta M. Bodwell, aged forty-two years (b. ME), and his son, Linwood C. Bodwell, at school, aged twelve years (b. NH). It would appear that he rented the building from her, which she owned free-and-clear. (More might be found in its census farm schedule).

Seven servants and six boarders resided in the Milton Hotel on that census day in June 1900. Cecile Fritts, house cook, aged twenty-five years (b. MI) was one of the servants. Due to the inflation of the intervening years, her daily wage of $1.00 would have the purchasing power of $30.46 in 2019. (She probably made about $9,503 per year). Of course, there were no income taxes and she appears to have received room and board also.

The poet Louise Bogan (1897-1970) lived as a child in the Milton Hotel (or Hotel Milton) for a few years from 1901. “The hotel faced both the Caricade [Carricabe] Paper Mill and the old flume, a mile-long stretch of very rapid white water dropping nearly a hundred feet over a rocky series of falls” (Frank, 1986). (See also Milton Water Power in 1901).

One might expect the Milton murder of  a traveling stranger to have received more column inches than this did. The authorities seem to have satisfied themselves as to identity of the victim on rather slight circumstantial evidence and a telegraphed description.

WILLIAM O’NEILL, PERHAPS. CLINTON, July 25. – It is thought that the man found murdered at Milton, N.H., July 14, is William O’Neill of this place. He left the Lancaster mills, where he was a weaver, three weeks ago, for Lewiston, Me. (Boston Globe, July 26, 1896).

LETTER MAY FURNISH CLEW. Body Found by Roadside Thought to be That of William O’Neil of Clinton. CLINTON, July 27. There is a general impression here today, based upon information furnished by the police, that the unknown man found murdered by the roadside at Milton, N.H., July 14, is William O’Neil of this town. When the remains were found a letter was discovered in the clothes. addressed to William O’Neil, Clinton, Mass. A description of the man arrived this morning, and those who knew O’Neil say that it fits him exactly. O’Neil was employed at the Lancaster gingham mills for the past three years, and is popular with his associates. John McGrail, with whom Mr. O’Neil boarded, states that he left here three weeks ago for Lewiston, Me. Since then he has heard nothing from him. Mr. McGrail thinks that the murdered man was O’Neil (Boston Globe, July 27, 1896).

There does not seem to have been any subsequent stories of investigations, suspects, arrests or trials. The O’Neill murder case – if that was who he was – seems to have gone “cold.”

(Ed. Note: Milton Vital Records name and explain him as “Unknown,” a white male, aged thirty-five years, who was “Run Over by Train”).

Here we find mention of a second Milton shoe strike. N.B. Thayer & Co. advertised for sixteen shoe lasters, apparently to replace those out on strike.

MALE HELP WANTED. LASTERS wanted. 6 non-union lasters on boys’ shoes, 10 on misses’ and children’s, must be good workmen and responsible men. Apply to 103 Bedford st., Boston, or Milton, N.H. N.B. THAYER & CO.

In the same edition of the same newspaper the union strike committee advertised its request that all shoe lasters stay away from Milton.

LASTERS are requested to keep away from Milton, N.H. as there is a strike on. Per order committee (Boston Globe, September 2, 1896).

Here we find another accidental death in which the victim was intoxicated. (Following the grisly wagon-dragging death in 1891).

Body Found in Milton Pond. SANFORD, Me, Nov. 11 – The body of John Steves, who disappeared from West Lebanon last week, was found floating in the pond at Milton, N.H., today. He was last seen Friday night, and was then in an intoxicated condition. It is supposed that in attempting to cross the railway bridge on the North Conway branch of the Boston & Maine he fell into the water and perished (Boston Globe, November 12, 1896).

Mr. Steves left little in the way of a documentary record. One supposes that he did his drinking in Milton and was attempting to cross back to the Lebanon, ME, side of the river.

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1895; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1897


Find a Grave. (2013, July 7). Charles Linwood Bodwell. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2011, January 26). Pvt. William P. Cook. Retrieved from

Frank, Elizabeth. (1986). Louise Bogan: A Portrait. Retrieved from

Massachusetts Department of Labor and Statistics. (1896). Annual Report on the Statistics of Manufactures. Retrieved from

Massachusetts Department of Labor and Statistics. (1897). Annual Report on the Statistics of Manufactures. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, February 25). Louise Bogan. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, October 11). Townsend, Massachusetts. Retrieved from,_Massachusetts

YouTube. (2018, June 3). Penny Loafers Hand Lasting. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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