Milton in the News – 1906

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | July 4, 2019

In this year, we encounter a Massachusetts ice scarcity, a ministerial anecdote, an au pair wanted, a train connection missed, two apparent arson fires, Nute High school bullies, a new ice season, and pullers-over wanted at Milton Mills.

This was also the first year (beginning September 1) in which New Hampshire motorists were required to have automobile registrations and driver’s licenses.

Massachusetts had significant warm stretches during the winter of 1905-06, which interfered with its ice harvest.

Ice Scarce in Lynn. [Lynn Item] The Lynn ice men are not cutting much ice just now in any form. The Lynn Ice Co., M.S. Coolidge, and Z.J. Chase & Sons, who are working at Milton, N.H., have been bothered there by weather, warm spells coming along to interfere with the piling up of ice in the houses there. The Lynn Ice Co. has not cut a pound in Lynn this winter, though the engines have been ready to strike at any minute. Dealers who have cut on Sluice, Floating Bridge, Cedar and Spring ponds have a few tiers in. but not enough to more than carry along the daily trade. All the ice dealers have been buying ice where they have been able to find it outside of Lynn, and some of the New Hampshire men who have small ponds and are near railways have been selling briskly. Far up in New Hampshire there is a plenty, but the cost of getting it to the cities is high, and the cost of lumber is also so high and the lumber so scarce that it is almost impossible to get it on the spot quickly enough to cover the stacks of ice made, and that means melting pretty fast where the sun strikes the cakes.

At Milton, N.H., Tuesday night, there was a big blow. Report came to Lynn today that some of the local firms had lost ice houses, but later the information reached Lynn that the houses that were put out of business for a while are those of the Boston Ice Co., which was building 13 new houses there. The uprights were erected and boarding in had begun, but a high wind during the night blew the standing timbers down and the work will have to be gone over again The Boston Ice Co. people say that where they need 450,000 tons they have but 100,000. and they don’t know what to do any more than the Lynn dealers. Providence, R.I., and New Bedford and Fall River are without ice, or will be after April 1, if some cannot be found to fill the houses.

“I have been m the ice business 25 years,” said a Lynn man today, “and the situation is the worst I ever knew. A man who has been in the trade 19 years told me the other day that he never saw anything like it. We don’t know what to do and that’s a fact. We can just plug along cutting what we can in Milton and trusting that something will happen to fill our houses. We are in a fix and wondering. Yes, ice will be high for next summer. I don’t see how it can be helped. It is costing high to get what little we can find as it is, and if we have to go farther north then the cost will jump to bigger figures and that means that the retail trade must go up.” (Fitchburg Sentinel, March 2, 1906).

ICE SHORTAGE, Hallstram Says It Is Here Already. Avers Dealers Will Have Hard Time Till New Crops. Fourteen Icemen Indicted in Philadelphia. Charles W. Hallstram, secretary of the Massachusetts ice dealers’ association, treasurer of the Union ice company, and prominent among the Ice dealers recently summoned before the grand jury, says it will be a tight squeak for Boston to get through warm weather without a shortage of ice. “Our company,” said Mr. Hallstram, “last week used up the entire supply of one of our houses, where it would ordinarily last two weeks at least. There were 2500 tons of ice in that house, but it was all used up in a week. “People who do not understand the situation may talk as they will, but the fact is there is a shortage of ice, and many of the dealers will find it pretty hard work to drag along until the new crop comes. “Our company has only four houses left with ice up at Milton, N.H. At Wilmington, Mass, we have six small houses full since last year. We supply the fish trade mostly, and I know that we will have a pretty hard time to pull through with what supply we have.” Mr. Hallstram said his company put their price up only 50 cents a ton this year, and that the price now is $3 a ton (Boston Globe, August 8, 1906).

See also Milton’s Ice Harvest of 1906 and Milton’s Ice Industry.

Elder Daniel B. Goodwin seems to have been the last of Milton’s Christian Church Elders – 1846-1888. He had died in Milton, October 10, 1888, and was here remembered nearly twenty years later for his large hands.

Mr. Goodwin’s Hands. A story comes from Milton, N.H., of an old clergyman named Goodwin. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man and was said to have the largest hands of any man for miles around. One noon a young man named Allen was taking dinner at the elder’s house. It was the elder’s custom to ask a blessing at the table, and Allen had not been used to this sort of thing, for instead of waiting he began to eat. The elder raised his hand with restraining gesture and said: “Pause, young man.” “Paws,” was the reply, “I should think they was paws.” – Chicago Inter Ocean (Funk & Wagners, 1906).

Berthold Isaac Demeritt married in Milton, July 9, 1892, Musetta Ardella Dorr. He was born in Newfield, ME, November 30, 1874, son of David and Hannah A. (Nason) DeMeritt; she was born in Milton, NH, in July 1875, [adopted?] daughter of Simon C. and Hannah W. (Hill) Dorr.

Bert DeMeritt, a packer of boots and shoes, aged twenty-five years (b. ME), headed a Boston, MA, household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of eight years), Musetta A. DeMeritt, aged twenty-four years (b. ME [SIC]), and his daughters, Merribel DeMeritt, aged six years (b. NH), and Bonneville DeMeritt, aged five years (b. NH). They resided in a rented two-family house at 48 Fairview Street, which they shared with the household of John Hunter, a gas collector, aged thirty-eight years (b. Scotland). Musetta was the mother of four children, of whom two were still living.

Exchange of Ideas in Members’ Letters. Who Needs This Work? I would like very much to have a lady, from 40 to 60, help with care of three children, mostly. She could do whatever she wished of the other work, with the price accordingly. I would rather help care for them, but I must have help, and some one well recommended, whom I could trust, who would be willing to stay with them so I could go out of doors. I would try to make it a pleasant home in every way – the help are one with the family here In the country. We are near churches, postoffice and healthy mountains, woods and water. It is an ideal place for one who cares more for country quiet than city streets. I would like to hear from any one answering these requirements, with good references. I will try to have a fair understanding, as regards price and privileges, and will return answers to all with any information asked for. House very convenient and roomy. Children made to mind and respect elders. One girl, two boys, 1 years to 2 months. Mrs. M.A. De M. (Milton, N.H.). An excellent chance for some one. (Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1906).

Berthold I. DeMeritt, a shoe factory foreman, aged thirty-five years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of seventeen years), Musetta DeMeritt, aged thirty-four years (b. NH), and his children, Bonneville I. DeMeritt, aged fifteen years (b. NH), Bruce R. DeMeritt, aged seven years (b. NH), Roscoe E. DeMeritt, aged four years, Delphine H. DeMeritt, aged two years, and Hannah D. DeMeritt, aged four months (b. NH). Musetta was the mother of eight children, of whom five were still living.

Mrs. M.A. Demeritt donated flowers to the New England Hospital for Women and Children, in Boston, MA, in 1918-19 (See Mrs. DeMerritt’s Arbutus).

Berthold I. DeMeritt died in Milton Mills, January 11, 1940. Musetta A. (Dorr) DeMeritt died in Rochester, NH, April 12, 1946.

Edgar M. Churchill, a clergyman, aged forty-one years (b. ME), headed an Acton, ME, household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of eight years), Amy M. Churchill, aged thirty-one years (b. ME), and his daughter, Dorothy M. Churchill, aged three years (b. ME). (Their household appeared on the same page as that of Eugene H. Ayer (see below).

CHURCH NOTES. There were no services in the Free Baptist church Sunday owing to the detainment in North Conway, N.H., of the Rev. A.W. Churchill of Milton, N.H., who was to have supplied there. Mr. Church understood that the summer train service was in effect and so missed connections. He will have charge of the services at the church next Sunday (St. Johnsbury Republican, May 9, 1906).

Jacob F. Staples married in Milton, March 9, 1863, Amaney J. Pike. Rev. James Doldt performed the ceremony.

Jacob F. Staples appeared on Page 5 of Milton in the Veterans Schedule of 1890. He and his family seem to have been missed in the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. The Milton section of the Dover Directory of 1900 listed him as a farmer, boarding at H.W. Staples. Harry W. Staples appeared as a farmer, on the U.V. [Union Village] road, 2 m. west of M.M. [Milton Mills].

FAMILY BURNED OUT TWICE. Town of Milton, N.H. Stirred Up Over Two Fires Which Officials Believe to Have Been of incendiary Origin. MILTON, N.H., Aug 7. This town is considerably stirred up over what is believed to have been two incendiary fires. On the morning of June 2, between the hours of 2 and 3, the home of Jacob F. Staples, about one mile out of the village on the road to Union, was burned, together with the barn which contained five horses, other live stock and farming implements. When the family, which consisted of Mr. Staples and his wife, his son Harry and the latter’s child, awakened, the house was one mass of flames and the occupants had barely time to get out without saving any of their effects. They moved to a small house owned by the son, and their neighbors assisted them in furnishing their new home. Early Sunday July 29 this house, together with the barn, three horses and wagons were completely destroyed by fire. As in the case of the previous fire, the family barely escaped with their lives. Owing to the circumstances connected with both fires the selectmen of the town have placed the matter in the hands of county solicitor Dwight Hall, and a systematic investigation will be made in hope of clearing up the mystery (Boston Globe, August 7, 1906).

Jacob F. Staples made out his last will in Milton, October 4, 1906. He devised his farm tools of every description to his son, Harry W. Staples; $1 to his daughter, Susie A. Hatch, wife of Frank Hatch of Kennebunk, ME; and all the rest and residue to his wife, Amancy J. Staples, who was also named as executrix. The will was proved November 7, 1906, i.e., Jacob F. Staples had by then died.

Eugene H. Ayer, a carriage painter, aged forty-five years (b. ME), headed an Acton, ME, household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of seventeen years), Charlotte Ayer, aged thirty-six years (b. NY), and his children, William Ayer, at school, aged ten years (b. [Parsonfield,] ME), Francese Ayer, aged seven years (b. ME), and Gladys H. Ayer, aged three years (b. ME). (Their household appeared on the same page as that of Rev. Edgar M. Churchill (see above)).

VICTIM OF HAZING. William Ayer Suffering from Blood Poisoning Said to Have Been Caused by Milton, N.H., High Schoolmates. MILTON MILLS, N.H., Sept. 19. William Ayer, 15, son of Eugene Ayer of this place, is suffering from blood poisoning it is caused, it is alleged, by being hazed by the sophomores of the Nute high school at Milton, which young Ayer entered this fall (Boston Globe, September 19, 1906).

Mr. Clarence E. Kelley was Nute High school principal at the time, and Misses Anna F. Berry and Theresa A. Gerould were the teachers. Despite this Nute High school experience, William R. Ayer went on to become a teacher too. He attended three years of college. He was a teacher, resident on Church Street in Milton Mills, in 1917; and a grammar school teacher, resident in Milton Mills, in 1920. He was a farmer, resident on Church Street in Milton Mills, in 1930 and 1940.

William R. Ayer died in 1954.

Here we find two of Milton’s ice merchants attempting to put the ice shortages of the winter of 1905-06 behind them. Hopefully, the winter of 1906-07 would be more successful.

MALE HELP WANTED. WANTED – 2 or 3 laborers to go to Milton, N.H. Apply to J.R. DOWNING CO, 128 Kenrick st., Brighton, at office or by phone, 2t* n13 (Boston Globe, November 13, 1906).

FOR SALE. ICE. NEW ICE, f.o.b. Milton, N.H., $1 per ton, railroad weight. Address JOHN O. PORTER, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, December 9, 1906).

Porter states his terms as being F.O.B.. i.e., the “sale” took place when the ice was loaded at Milton. Ownership, loss in transit, and any liability, all shifted at that time to the buyer.

McKay Leather Stitching Machine.jpg
McKay Leather Stitching Machine

The Boynton Shoe Company had been active in various locations since at least 1898. Its founder, William H. Boynton, died in Marblehead, MA, in December 1901. It had a Candia, NH, operation from around 1903. It first advertised for a stock-fitter for women’s and misses’ shoes at a Milton Mills branch in October 1904. (Boynton was the successor there of the Gale Shoe Company).

MALE HELP WANTED. PULLERS-OVER and operator, McKay sewer, steady work, good chance for family to move where they can all have work. BOYNTON SHOE CO. Milton Mills, N.H., or ANDREWS CO., Everett. SuW d23 (Boston Globe, December 26, 1906).

(Details of a Puller-Over’s task may be found in Milton in the News – 1901). The Boynton Shoe Company produced shoes at Milton Mills through at least 1908.

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1905; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1907


Beehive (MA Historical Society). (2014, February 7). The McKay Stitcher: The Machine That Revolutionized Footwear Production. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2013, August 12). William R. Ayer. Retrieved from

Sampson & Murdock Company. (1908). New England Business Directory and Gazetteer for 1908. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, June 23). FOB (Shipping). Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, August 27). Gordon McKay. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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