The Preacher and the Druggist – 1897

By Muriel Bristol | May 23, 2019

Have you heard the one about the preacher and the druggist?

A Milton (N.H.) druggist who considered that he was being persecuted by a minister who alleged that he sold whiskey illegitimately, paid the minister $30 for suppressing criminal prosecution of the druggist. Then the latter had the minister indicted on a charge of blackmail, on which charge he was found guilty (Allison, 1897).

New Hampshire’s Prohibitory Law

In imitation of the so-called Maine Law or Maine Liquor Law of 1850, New Hampshire passed its own state-level alcohol prohibition law in 1855.

New Hampshire’s prohibitory law had some interesting features. It did not prohibit the manufacture of alcohol. (New Hampshire was New England’s largest producer of beer). It did not prohibit either the possession or consumption of alcohol. It only prohibited the sale of alcohol.

Sales of alcohol – for industrial, medicinal, or scientific purposes only – were limited to state-licensed agents, who were usually druggists.

As we have seen in various period news items and documents, this law did not prevent drinking in hotels (1864), or public drunkenness (1875) or drunken deaths by misadventure (1891, 1896, etc.).

It took only a sympathetic physician’s prescription to buy liquor legally from a druggist. (Which sounds a lot like the approach many states have taken in recent years regarding medical marijuana).

Prohibitory laws are themselves noxious in providing a nexus for government intervention, bureaucracy, political favoritism, fanaticism, and corruption, as well as being a drag on the economy and a general nuisance.

The Druggist

Eli Fernald, a whitesmith [i.e., a tinsmith], aged thirty-three years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Eliza A. [(Felch)] Fernald, aged thirty-six years (b. NH), M.E. Fernald, aged twelve years (b. NH), and Fred Fernald, aged seven months. Sadly, both of these enumerated children, as well as several others before, appear to have died young.

Eli Fernald served as quartermaster sergeant of the First New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Regiment (1864-65) during the civil war. He paid a $1 tax for his watch in the US Excise Tax of 1866.

Frank E. Fernald was born in Boston, MA, in 1866, presumably under a different name (if he had one at all). Eli and Eliza A. Fernald adopted him and brought him home to Milton. Unfortunately, Eli Fernald died of consumption in Milton, September 27, 1869, when Frank would have been only three years of age.

Eliza A. Fernald, keeping house, aged forty-eight years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. Her household included Frank E. Fernald, aged four years (b. NH [SIC]), Joseph H. Duntley, a blacksmith, aged twenty-two years (b. NH), and Betsy J. Whitehouse, aged fourteen years (b. NH).

Frank grew up in Milton. He would have attended his local Milton district school. His entry in the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census indicates that he completed the eight years that constituted a district school education. (Twenty (62.5%) of the thirty-two adults on his 1940 Milton census page had that much or less. This was standard. A generally younger cohort of nine adults (28.1%) had also an additional one to three years of high school, and three (9.4%) had two to three years of college).

Eliza A. Fernald, keeps house, aged fifty-seven years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“Milton 3-Ponds”) household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. Her household included her “adopted son,” Frank E. Fernald, at home, aged fourteen years (b. MA). The census taker enumerated them between the households of George W. Tasker, works in shoe manufactory, aged fifty years (b. NH), and Charles H. Looney, Milton postmaster, aged fifty years (b. NH).

Frank E. Fernald married (1st) in Manchester, NH, March 12, 1890, Sarah Lucy “Lucy” Watson. He was a Milton shoemaker and she a Manchester shoe-stitcher. Rev. Frank Haley of Milton performed the ceremony. She was born in Sandwich, NH, circa 1866-67, daughter of Jeremiah and Harriet E. (Duntley) Watson.

Elisa Fernald appeared in the veterans schedule of the Eleventh (1890) Federal Census, as the widow of veteran Eli Fernald, who had served in the First NH Artillery. She died in Milton, August 22, 1892.

Druggist Benjamin B. Sloan left Milton to sell a patent nostrum after late 1894. Frank E. Fernald and Charles W. Hicks opened their Milton drug store in or around December 1896. (Hicks’ own Wolfeboro drug store had failed a year earlier, in December 1895, leaving liabilities of $8,000 (Haynes, 1895)).

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Milton will have a new drug store conducted under the style of Hicks & Fernald (Engelhard, 1896).

Town Clerk Charles D. Jones kept another Milton drug store. (Milton Mills appears to have had none at that time).

The Preacher

Enter Rev. Fred E. Carver of Milton’s Free-Will Baptist Church. From an early period, ministers of all denominations detested both slavery and alcohol. Slavery had been resolved by the civil war. That left alcohol on which to focus.

Rev. Carver seems to have been absolutely convinced – we cannot now know the truth – that Hicks and Fernald were selling liquor illicitly from their drug store. Carver had several times had the premises searched by the authorities, presumably on a complaint to one or more of Milton’s many justices of the peace.

On the twenty-ninth day of March, eighteen hundred and ninety-seven, [Fernald] not being an agent of any town for the purpose of selling spirit, sold to one whose name he would not reveal, one quart of spirituous liquor, contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided, unlawfully and for the sake of wicked gain, and without the order and consent of the attorney-general of said state (Knowlton, 1902).

At this point, Hicks may have developed “cold feet.” He sold his interest in the Hicks & Fernald drug store to Fernald and decamped.

NEW ENGLAND. Frank Fernald has purchased Mr. Hicks’ interest in the firm of Hicks & Fernald at Milton, N.H., and will continue the business. Mr. Hicks has returned to his home in Wolfeboro (Allison, August 1897). 

This might have presented a serious problem for Fernald, if it were Hicks that held the druggist license or registration. Here we find him attempting apparently to supply his license deficiency by advertising for a registered druggist to work in his Milton drug store.

Male Help Wanted. DRUG CLERK wanted, reg. in New Hampshire, must be temperate and reliable, steady job for the right man. Apply, with references, to FRANK E. FERNALD, Milton, N H. (Boston Globe, July 8, 1897).

The Composition

It is largely forgotten now that every private citizen has the authority to arrest and even prosecute malefactors (a “citizen’s arrest”). The official police and district attorneys have no more inherent authority than anyone else. What they do have is “qualified immunity,” by which the court system protects them from what Rev. Carver encountered next: a counter prosecution for having exceeded his legitimate authority, i.e., for acting falsely under “color of law.”

It appeared from the evidence for the state that on August 31, 1897, the defendant [Rev. Carver] went to Fernald and informed him that he had a case against him for the illegal sale of liquor; that the defendant read the law to Fernald and told him if he would settle it would save him a good many dollars; that for thirty dollars he would destroy the evidence, which was a bottle of liquor; that he would prosecute unless thirty dollars was paid, and the fine would be fifty dollars and the costs twenty-five dollars; that subsequently Fernald paid him thirty dollars as demanded, and that thereupon the defendant turned the liquor into the sink, gave Fernald the bottle, and wrote and delivered to him a paper a follows: “Milton, N.H., Sept. 2, 1897. This is to certify that I promise to withdraw all further action against Frank E. Fernald for illegal sale of liquor [on] March 29, 1897. F.E. Carver” (Knowlton, 1902).

The Tables Turn

PASTOR ARRESTED. Blackmail Alleged by a Milton Druggist. Latter Said to Have Witnesses to Money Payment. Rev. F.E. Carver Prosecuted Frank Fernald. Latter Swore He Would Get Even for This. Arranged Interview, Overheard by Three Friends.

Carver, FEMILTON, Sept 5. The recent action of Rev. F.E. Carver, pastor of the Free Baptist church of this village, in an effort to prosecute under the liquor law Frank Fernald, a local druggist, has taken an unexpected turn, which has created the profoundest sensation in town. and particularly in social and church circles.

On Saturday a warrant was served on Rev. Mr. Carver, charging him with blackmailing Frank Fernald, the complainant, by promising to desist from prosecuting the latter on a liquor charge on payment of $30, which, it is alleged, was paid to him by Fernald and a receipt given.

The clergyman has had Fernald’s places searched several times in the past, it is stated, but the present case resulted from the seizure, a few days ago, of a half pint of whisky on a search warrant sworn out by Rev. Mr. Carver.

Fernald claimed that the liquor was kept for medicinal purposes, but the clergyman threatened to prosecute him and make him pay the statutory fine of $50 for keeping spirituous liquors for sale.

The matter was not immediately pressed to an issue, and Fernald, it is stated, made advances toward the clergyman in reference to dropping the matter, offering to pay him whatever might be satisfactory. Mr. Carver consulted an attorney, so if is said, as to the matter of dropping the case in the way proposed. The consultation resulted in his deciding to accept the proposition.

An appointment was accordingly made with Fernald to meet him at a hotel in the village and fix the matte up. They met on Friday at the appointed time. Fernald had taken precautions to have witnesses to the transaction, and had three of his friends concealed in the next room where they could see all without being seen by the clergyman.

It is alleged that the hush money, $30 in bank notes, were then paid to Mr. Carver by Fernald and a receipt for the money given. The minister then tore up the liquor warrant.

Fernald had succeeded in accomplishing his purpose of scoring even with Mr. Carver, as he has, it is said, from time to time, boasted he would, and without informing the latter what he intended doing, proceeded at once to Rochester, consulted counsel and swore out a warrant for Carver’s arrest for alleged blackmail. The warrant was served Saturday afternoon and Mr. Carver was notified to appear before the police court at Milton Mills Monday morning.

The clergyman’s friends are greatly exercised over the affair, and seem ready to swear vengeance against the druggist. While they question the propriety of his accepting money for keeping the matter quiet, they say he was innocently entrapped.

Mr. Fernald. on the other hand, says he believes the minister engaged in the work of prosecuting him for what money there was in it, and shows his receipt for $30 as evidence that such was probably the case (Boston Globe, September 6, 1897).

Rev. Carver gave no defense. His attorney admitted the facts, but claimed that Carver lacked any ill intent. Nevertheless, Carver was convicted on a charge of “composition,” i.e., a type of conspiracy. Legal tomes point out that in forgoing prosecution in favor of blackmailing Fernald, Carver had deprived the body politic of its opportunity to exercise its public justice and to collect its fines. That is, he had prevented the government from getting its “pound of flesh” from Fernald. (Assuming Fernald would have been convicted, that is).

The Aftermath

F.E. Fernald appeared as proprietor of a Milton drug store in the Milton Business Directory of 1898 (but not in that of 1901). He left Milton before June 1900 to work in Boston as a foreman for the N.B. Thayer shoe company. (He appears to have retained his deceased parents’ Milton homestead, perhaps as a summer residence).

Frank E. Fernald, a shoe factory foreman, aged thirty-four years (b. MA), headed a Boston, MA, household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of nine years), Lucy F. Fernald, aged thirty-four years (b. NH), and his wife’s mother, Harriet E. Watson, a widow, aged seventy-two years (b. NH). They resided at 119 Dale Street.

Rev. Carver left Milton too not long after, i.e., 1900-01. He removed to Fort Fairfield, ME.

New Hampshire repealed its state-level prohibition law in 1903. Its legislature replaced it with a New Hampshire Liquor License Law. Instead of forbidding but with few exceptions, they went over to permitting but with many restrictions.

For example, the following bizarre provision forbid serving mixed drinks, having female servers or store clerks, or felon clerks or servers, or having bars that were not fishbowls.

It shall not be lawful to have adulterated liquors, to have any girl or woman clerk, or anyone who has committed a felony serve liquor, and the bars must be visible from the outside (Portsmouth Herald, March 4, 1903).

So, for purposes of selling or serving liquor, being a woman was functionally equivalent to having been convicted of a felony. It would be impossible to make this up. And so things stood until national prohibition was imposed in 1920.

Fernald in Subsequent Years

Frank E. Fernald was one of only twelve Milton residents to have a private [automobile] operator’s license in 1907 (there were also three chauffeur’s licenses); his automobile was one of the only thirteen to sixteen automobiles (and two motorcycles) registered in town.

Receives Silver Loving Cup. EAST ROCHESTER, N.H, Sept 17. Charles C. Taft, manager of the N.B. Thayer & Co. shoe factory since the company started here, was surprised yesterday by the other officials by the presentation of a silver loving cup. The speech was made by Supt. Frank E. Fernald. Mr. Taft recently resigned as manager to accept a similar position with the Nettleton shoe company of Syracuse, N.Y. Mr. Taft formerly lived in Boston (Boston Globe, September 17, 1907).

NB Thayer Letterhead (S-l1600) - Detail
N.B. Thayer & Company Letterhead, 1909

Frank E. Fernald, a shoe factory superintendent, aged forty-three years (b. MA), headed a Boston, MA, household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of twenty years), Lucy Fernald, aged forty-two years (b. NH), and his mother-in-law, Harriet E. Watson, a widow, aged eighty-two years (b. NH). They resided in a six-unit apartment building at 312 Warren Street.

The Boston Directory of 1911 listed Fernald, Frank E., supt., h. 312 Warren, Rox. [i.e., Roxbury, a district of Boston].

Frank E. Fernald, of Milton, NH, and Sarah Lucy Fernald, of Roxbury, MA, divorced in Strafford County Superior Court, November 1, 1910. He accused her of so treating him as to seriously impair his health. (One had to allege something).

The Boston City Directory of 1912 listed Frank E. Fernald, as having rem. to E. Rochester, N.H. It did list his wife, S. Lucy Fernald, milliner, at 313A Warren, i.e., she remained behind in Roxbury, MA, at least for a while.

Frank E. Fernald married (2nd) in Rochester, NH, April 17, 1912, Lulu A. Tuttle, he of Milton and she of Farmington. He was a divorced shoe factory superintendent, aged forty-six years (b. Boston), and she a houseworker, aged thirty-four years (b. Farmington). Frank H. Libby, of Rochester, clergyman, performed the ceremony. She was born in Farmington, NH, September 16, 1875, daughter of Charles E. and Justina (Ham) Tuttle.

Frank E. Fernald received a patent (Number 1,094,546), April 28, 1914, for an “Apparatus for Use in the Manufacture of Boots and Shoes.” He assigned it to the United Shoe Manufacturing Company (Haag, 1914).

CHANGES IN SUPERINTENDENTS AND FOREMEN. Mr. McMurray, superintendent of N.B. Thayer, E. Rochester, has given up his position and has accepted a similar one with Tapley & Marston, Danvers, Mass. He will be succeeded by J.B. Hill of Brockton. Mr. Frank Fernald, the former superintendent, is at the factory for a short time, having fully recovered from his sickness. Mr. McMurray was formerly superintendent for W.H. McElwain in their Newport factory (McLeish, 1916). 

CHANGES IN SUPERINTENDENTS AND FOREMEN. Frank Fernald, the well-known superintendent of N.B. Thayer Co., East Rochester, who retired some time ago on account of poor health, is back with this firm as general manager. Mr. Hill is superintendent at present. Mr. Fernald’s many friends are pleased to learn of his permanent recovery from his illness (McLeish, 1917).

Frank E. Fernald and Harry Y. Nute, of Milton, applied for a patent on an innersole design on March 18, 1918.

1,324,390. INNERSOLE. FRANK E. FERNALD, HARRY Y. NUTE, Milton, N.H. Filed Mar. 18, 1918. Serial No. 223,224. 1 Claim. (Cl. 36-22). An inner sole comprising a base layer, a marginal fabric rib stitched longitudinally medially thereof to the base to provide free edge portions at opposite sides of the stitch and having one face thereof adhesively coated to permit the connection of the opposite edge portions thereof together when folded, the edge portions of the rib when folded being connected by a single row of stitching extending longitudinally thereabout through said edge portions, and a reinforcing stiff fabric on said base and having its edge and lower adjacent marginal portions adhesively connected with the inner edge portion of the rib and the base layer (US Patent Office, 1920).

Harry Yeaton Nute was born in Milton Mills, March 28, 1875, son of John S. and Emma (Morse) Nute.

Frank E. Fernald, a farmer (small farm), aged fifty-three years (b. MA), headed a Wells, ME, household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Lulu A. Fernald, aged forty-four years (b. NH), and his boarder, George Ham, aged forty-two years (b. NH). They resided on Kennebunk Road.

Frank E. Fernald, a shoe factory superintendent, aged sixty-four years (b. MA), headed a Rochester, NH, household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Lulu A. Fernald, aged fifty-four years (b. NH), and his brother-in-law, George Ham, aged fifty-one years (b. NH). They resided at 28 Main Street and did have a radio set.

East Rochester Notes. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Fernald of Milton, N.H., called on friends in town yesterday. Mr. Fernald is a retired shoe executive and for many years was connected with the N.B. Thayer Shoe company here (Portsmouth Herald, December 6, 1941).

Frank E. Fernald, retired, aged seventy-four years (b. MA), headed a Milton, NH, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Lulu A.J. Fernald, aged sixty-three years (b. NH), and his brother-in-law, George Ham, aged sixty-two years (b. NH). They owned their home on Main Street (“Milton Community”), which was valued at $2,500.

Frank E. Fernald died in Milton, NH, December 14, 1944. Rev. Fred E. Carver died in Portland, ME, August 29, 1948.

Prohibition would be all right if it prohibited anything except the sale of good liquor – Portsmouth Herald, February 8, 1903

Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


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Haag, Haag, and Haag. (1914, June). Shoe and Leather Facts. Retrieved from

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Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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