Milton in the News – 1923

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | October 3, 2019

In this year, we encounter Milton blanketed in snow five feet deep, a flu epidemic at Milton Mills, an ice-cutting job, an entirely unintentional fall, an auto accident, a rare wedding, a barber wanted, a farm for sale, a sanity test, a return of the fisher queen, the route to Milton, radio reception, a Nute High tuition student, Rev. Whitcomb assisting his daughter, a houseworker wanted, and a problem wrought by heavy rains.

Milton has had storms that brought three feet of snow in recent years, but five would have been a “good deal” of snow indeed.

EDITORIAL POINTS. Perhaps you thought there was a good deal of snow to shovel, but supposing that snowfall had been five feet on a level around Boston, as it was in Milton, N.H.! (Boston Globe, January 6, 1923).

It might have been comparable – although for Milton alone – to the “Great Snow” of 1717, which left five-plus feet of snow all over New England, with drifts of up to twelve feet deep.

A recurrence of the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918-19 struck Milton Mills during the winter of 1922-23. The second wave was less deadly than the original. NH newspaper accounts mentioned the double difficulty of the epidemic and the difficulty doctors had in reaching patients through deep snow, some doctors having to resort to snowshoes.

Charles Tinker, a [Waumbeck] blanket mills loom fixer, aged sixty-five years (b. ME), headed an Acton, ME, household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Elizabeth A. Tinker, house working out, aged sixty-three years (b. MA), his child, Dora M. Colbath, a widow, aged forty-one years (b. MA), and his grandchildren, Lizzie E. Colbath, aged nineteen years, Jessie M. Colbath, aged ten years, Ernest F. Colbath, aged six years, Catherine L. Colbath, aged four years and one month, and Herman F. Clough, aged eleven years. They resided in a rented house on French Street.

EPIDEMIC HITS MILTON MILLS. Rochester, Feb. 7 – Reports received last night from Milton Mills, a small town about 20 miles north of here, indicated that the epidemic of influenza which has prevailed there for the past few days is increasing. More than 100 cases have been reported, but so far only one death has resulted, Mrs. Charles Tinker, 62 years old, whose illness developed into pneumonia. Several new cases were reported yesterday (Portsmouth Herald, February 8, 1923).

NEWMARKET. The epidemic resembles the “flu” but seems to be of shorter duration. It is none the less serious for all that (Portsmouth Herald, February 20, 1923).

Allen E. Barker of Whipple Road in Kittery, ME, was quite young – not yet nineteen years of age – when he signed on to work in Milton’s ice industry. He was a clerk when he married in Kittery, May 1, 1922, Ella M. Williams, both of Kittery.

KITTERY. Allen Barker of Whipple Cove has taken employment at Milton, N.H., cutting ice (Portsmouth Herald, February 20, 1923).

An earnest little Milton girl knew more about mens rea than many modern state and federal legislators.

The Globe Man’s Daily Story. A little girl at Milton, N.H., who went into the woods to gather mayflowers, came home bringing a bunch of the flowers, but completely drenched. “How in the world did you get so wet?” asked her mother, while the little girl was being husked and rubbed down with a towel. “I fell into the brook,” she answered sweetly. “Fell into the brook!” exclaimed her mother. “How did a big girl like you happen to fall into the brook?” “I was watching some frogs,” the child said, “and I fell in.” “Watching some frogs” repeated her mother, “and you fell in!” “Mother,” said the little girl earnestly, “it was entirely unintentional” (Boston Globe, May 19, 1923).

This accident reminds one of the famous insurance claim in which a tree “jumped out” and hit an automobile.

BEVERLY MAN INJURED IN ACCIDENT AT MILTON. N.H. BEVERLY, June 19 – Word was received here tonight that Henry J. Cottrell of Broadway, Beverly, who started this morning on a two-weeks’ vacation, was severely injured today in an automobile accident at Milton, N.H. According to the police of Rochester, N.H., Cottrell was riding with a friend, whose name was not taken, when the automobile crashed into a boulder. Cottrell was thrown out. He was taken to the Rochester, N.H. Hospital. It was found that his right leg was broken in two places. Cottrell was to have spent his vacation in Wolfboro, N.H. He is employed at the hospital of the United Shoe Machinery Company plant. He is a Holy Cross graduate and is much interested in politics. He is married and has a small son (Boston Globe, June 20, 1923).

Henry J. Cottrell, a machine shop secretary, aged forty-eight years (b. RI), headed a Beverly, MA, household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Elizabeth L. Cottrell, aged forty-five years (b. Canada (Eng.)), and his child, Lawrence Cottrell, a telegraph messenger, aged seventeen years (b. MA). They resided in a rented two-family dwelling at 26 Broadway, which they shared with the household of Charles A. Blake, a druggist, aged forty-seven years (b. MA).

It is truly remarkable that Milton’s Free-Will Baptist Church went over thirty years without having a wedding performed there.

30-YEAR-OLD MILTON, N.H., CHURCH’S FIRST WEDDING. MILTON, N.H., June 26 – Miss Gladys M. St. John, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Napoleon St. John, and Elwood M. Dixon, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen E. Dixon, were married Sunday morning at the Free Baptist Church here. They are the first to be married in this church, which has been built more than 30 years. Rev G.H. Chambers performed the ceremony and the double ring service was used. The picturesque little church was beautified with flowers and ferns. Miss Stella Wentworth played the wedding march. The bride wore white crepe de chine and carried a bouquet of pink peonies. Miss Enaise St. John, sister of the bride, and Paul J. Dixon, brother of the groom, were the attendants, with little Ruth Dixon as flower girl. The bride is a graduate of the Rochester High School, ’17, and for the past three years has been employed in the office of I.W. Jones & Co. The couple left for an automobile trip through Vermont and New York. They will spend the Summer at Camp Fairview, Milton (Boston Globe, June 26, 1923).

For those following Milton’s active barber trade, Charles Lyman Burke sought to hire a steady man for his barber shop. His barber shop and pool room were situated in 1917 at 23 Main street, near the Cocheco dam, while his house was further north, at 47 Main street.

MALE HELP WANTED. WANTED – At once, barber, steady man; good pay; ½ day and evening off. Address C.L. BURKE, Milton, N.H. 2t* jy13 (Boston Globe, July 13, 1923).

We last encountered Mr. Burke and his barber shop in October 1919, when he was offering $21 per week in wages.

Charles L. Burke, a barber (owner), aged thirty-seven years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Lillian M. [(Dennett)] Burke, aged thirty-one years (b. ME), and his roomer, Laura H. Williams, a grammar school teacher, aged fifty years (b. ME). They resided in a rented house on Upper Main street, at or near its intersection with the Wakefield road.

Chamberlain & Burnham seemed willing to accommodate a wide range of payment options to sell this Milton Mills farm. (The asking price of $8,000 would be worth $119,343 in 2018 dollars).

Exchange Your Home FOR THIS EQUIPPED FARM. THINK OF THIS BARGAIN on State road, 1 mile from Milton Mills, N.H., electric lights, churches of all denominations, 215 acres, 2 horses, registered bull, 9 head of stock, 3 registered; 6 calves; 3 of which are thoroughbreds; 5 horse power gasoline engine with wood sawing outfit: all kinds of farming tools: large amount of wood and timber; maple sugar orchard; 75 acres tillage; balance pasture and wood; pretty 1½ story white 10-room house with 8×20 piazza; 40×80 stock barn clap-boarded; ice house; 2 poultry houses and hay storage .barn; farm borders Salmon River; all free and clear; only $8000; owner would take $2500 down or would consider a single or two family house in exchange; shown from Concord, N.H., office, 28 North Main St., tel. 1814-J or Portsmouth, N.H., office, 16 Market Sq., tel. 186. CHAMBERLAIN & BURNHAM, Inc., 204 Washington St., Boston. FSu Jy20 (Boston Globe, July 20, 1923).

Arthur McKay may have once lived in Milton Mills. At the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census, he was being held as a prisoner in the Massachusetts State Prison. His “occupation before entering” prison was shoemaker, and his age was twenty-four years (b. MA).

RAN AMUCK ON ESPLANADE. McKay Said He Once Lived at Milton Mills, N.H. A man about 36, who said he had no home, but later told the police he used to live at Milton Mills, N.H., ran amuck this morning, just before 1 o’clock, on the Charles River Esplanade, at the foot of Dartmouth st. He threatened to knock down every man who came near him. Three men walking together were stopped and the man not only abused them, but threatened to clean “’em up” if they even spoke another word. My name is Arthur McKay, he said. Some distance away were special officers Kenneth Chisholm and Mrs. Mary McKinnon of the Metropolitan Police. Each had a young fellow under arrest, but stepped up to McKay. “We are police officers. What are you doing around here and why are you stopping and abusing people?” said policeman Chisholm. “You get out of here or I’ll throw you into the river,” was the retort. Policeman O’Brien, also of the Metropolitan police, quickly responded to a call and the man was arrested. He was charged with using profanity to the police. Appearing before Judge Duff in the Municipal Court, policeman Chisholm explained in detail what occurred, telling how McKay stopped several men, threatened to lick them and how he threatened to throw him into the river. A question as to the man’s mental condition was raised and he was held in $300 until July 26 for trial (Boston Globe, July 24, 1923).

SANITY TEST FOR MAN WHO ABUSED TRIO ON ESPLANADE. A man, claiming to be Arthur McKay, 36, formerly of Milton Mills, N.H., was arrested on Charles River Esplanade yesterday morning, after he had stopped, abused and threatened three pedestrians and had offered to throw a policeman into the river when asked what he meant by holding up and insulting people. The prisoner, when taken to the Municipal Court, was held in $300 till July 26, owing to a suspicion as to his sanity (Boston Globe, July 25, 1923).

Miss Hazel White, the prodigious eight-year-old angler of September 1916 (now aged fifteen years), returned to Milton for a two-week vacation.

KITTERY. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Woods and family and Miss Hazel White of Whipple road, have returned from two weeks’ stay at Milton, N.H. (Portsmouth Herald, July 31, 1923).

A Fitchburg Sentinel reader asked for directions to Milton. In the answer we find the “Yellow Belt line” mentioned in an April 1915 realty advertisement explained. In lieu of road signage, color-coded telephone poles marked the route. The route of the White Mountain Highway is described as being marked by poles colored with Yellow and Black bands.

OUR LETTER BOX. Route to Milton, N.H. Sentinel: Will you through your paper tell me the best road to Milton, N.H. – A.R. Follow the yellow detour arrows from the Upper common to Sheldon bridge, West Townsend and Townsend. At Townsend take the road to Pepperell and East Pepperell and at East Pepperell take the road to Hollis Depot and Nashua. There follow the brown bands of telephone poles, this route carrying you to Manchester, NH., and then across the state through Candia, Raymond, Epping, and to Exeter. From Exeter follow the brown and yellow bands, through Newmarket, Durham, and to Dover. At Dover pick up the yellow and black bands, through Somersworth and Rochester to Milton (Fitchburg Sentinel, August 6, 1923).

This newspaper query informs us of two radio stations at least that might be heard in the Milton of 1923: WKAV, broadcasting from Laconia, NH, and WFAR, broadcasting from Sanford, ME.

RADIO INFORMATION. All inquiries concerning radio matters should be mailed to the Radio Department, Globe office, Boston, and they will be answered through the regular radio columns. Information of this kind cannot be given over the telephone or by personal interview at the Globe office. Anonymous letters will receive no attention, but initials will be used in answering questions through the column when the writer so requests.

QUERIES AND ANSWERS. Q 3032, E.L.L., Milton Mills, N.H. – “Do stations WKAV, Laconia, N.H., and WFAR, Sanford, Me., broadcast every night?” A. These stations do not have any regular operating schedules (Boston Globe, September 26, 1923).

WEZS (1350 AM) is the modern successor of WKAV, which went on the air in 1922 as New Hampshire’s first broadcast station.

The initials of radio enthusiast E.L.L suggests Edwin L. Leighton, a Milton Shoe Company foreman in 1917, except that he lived on lower Main street at Milton Three-Ponds, rather than Milton Mills. Perhaps he had moved by 1923.

Here we find a Temple, NH, student attending Nute High School and residing with her Milton aunt. We may recall that Nute High was a privately-endowed school for Milton residents that accepted tuition students from elsewhere.

TEMPLE. Eleanor Smart is going to high school in Milton, N.H., and boarding with her aunt, Mrs. Ruth Dorr (Fitchburg Sentinel, September 27, 1923).

William W. Dorr, a leather-board laborer, aged thirty-eight years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Ruth M. [(Edwards)] Dorr, aged twenty-six years (b. NH), his children, Edwin F. Dorr, aged four years and six months (b. NH), and Clifford F. Dorr, aged two years and four months (b. NH), and his brothers, Irving G. Dorr, aged thirty-five years (b. NH), and Fred H. Door, aged forty-one years (b. NH). They resided in a rented house on Charles Street in Milton Village.

Rev. Harvey E. Whitcomb accepted a call to the Milton Mills Baptist church in Spring 1921. Here we find him traveling to Washington, DC, to assist his newly-widowed daughter in settling her deceased husband’s estate.

HAVERHILL. People who knew Lucy Whitcomb, who resided in Pike a few years ago, will be saddened to learn that she has just lost her husband, Mr. Charles McDonald, by death. They have been residing in Washington, D.C. Mr. McDonald was an aviator and had been an instructor at Yale college. He was also a Mason and marched as a Shriner in President Harding’s funeral procession. He received a sunstroke, and was ill for two weeks. He apparently recovered, but recently became worse. It was thought best to go to Boston to his mother’s home. While en route he had a sudden serious turn and died before reaching the city. The Rev. Harvey Whitcomb, pastor of the Baptist church at Milton Mills, and father of Mrs. McDonald, a bride of only two years, has gone to Washington to assist his daughter in settling the estate. Mrs. McDonald is a niece of Mrs. Williard Atkins and Mrs. George Wells (Groton Times, October 5, 1923).

Spaulding Shoe superintendent William A. Dickson had hired a housekeeper in August 1915, who took a month or so off in March 1916.

FEMALE HELP WANTED. GIRL FOR GENERAL housework in family of five. Address W.A. DICKSON, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, October 10, 1923).

Whomever that housekeeper might have been, she would seem to have left his employ, which necessitated her replacement.

Heavy rains damaged the Kennebunk Manufacturing Company’s dam at Milton Mills on Saturday, December 1.

Kennebunk Manufacturing - Map
Kennebunk Manufacturing (their dam at lower left)

BIG RAIN WASHES AWAY TOP OF DAM. Milton, N.H.. Dec. 3 – Early Saturday the entire top of the 60-foot dam of the Kennebunk Manufacturing Company Mill, including the flash boards, was washed away as a result of the big rain of Friday. The debris floated down the river, stopping against the power house. The company will obtain power from the Electric Light Company until the dam is repaired. It may be necessary to build a new dam, which would mean an expense of $10.000. Work is brisk at the mill. Three shifts each working eight hours, manufacturing radio horns in addition to the regular line of fiber goods, employed (Portsmouth Herald, [Monday,] December 3, 1923).

J. Spaulding & Sons had purchased the Kennebunk Manufacturing Company in 1902, which they relocated to the N.B. Thayer & Company shoe mill at Milton Mills. Their “regular line” of fiber goods included lunch boxes, valises, suit cases, etc., as well as phonograph and radio “horns,” i.e., megaphone speakers.

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1922; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1924


Find a Grave. (2013, September 23). Elizabeth Ann Whitworth Tinker. Retrieved from

Harry Alter & Co. (1923). 1923 Radio Broadcasting Station Directory and Trouble Finder. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2016, July 13). Kennebunk Manufacturing Company. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, July 31). Mens Rea. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, August 28). The Great Snow of 1717. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, July 2). WEZS. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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