Milton in the News – 1936

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 21, 2019

In this year, we encounter a skunk dispatched neatly, the river’s victim, Robert E. Jones in Hollywood, farewell to Mrs. G.A. Stevens, an unfortunate bride, seeing the elephant, an auto injury, farewell to the Town Clerk, a burglars’ party, and the two fire-blackened chimneys of the Ephraim Plummer house.

Nonagenarian Mary Nutter of Milton Mills remained feisty enough to take out a skunk with a single blow.

WOMAN OF 95 KILLS SKUNK WITH CANE. Milton Mills, Feb. 11 – Although she is 95 years old, Mrs. Mary Nutter, demonstrated yesterday she was a match for a skunk. Finding, the unwelcome visitor on her woodpile, she dispatched the animal with a single blow of her cane (Portsmouth Herald, February 12, 1936).

Aldrege Edward “Ed” Custeau of Lebanon, ME, drowned while removing flashboards from a Salmon Falls River dam, March 13.

Aldrege Custeau, a gravel bank laborer, aged fifty-three years (b. Canada (Fr.)), headed a Lebanon, ME, household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of twenty-five years), Clesilde D. [(Blouin)] Custeau, aged forty-eight years (b. Canada (Fr.)), and Arthur G. Custeau, a shoe factory heeler, aged nineteen years (b. NH). Aldrege Custeau owned their house, which was valued at $500. They had a radio set. The enumerator recorded their house between those of Charles C. Rhodes, a general farm farmer, aged seventy years (b. NY), and Ira W. Jones, a civil engineer, aged seventy-five years (b. NH).

N.H. DROWNING VICTIM’S BODY IS RECOVERED. MILTON, N.H., March 16 (AP). A searching party recovered today the body of Edward Custeau, 60, who drowned in the Salmon Falls river Friday while removing flashboards from a dam. The body was caught on a plank on an old dam a quarter mile below the spot Custeau fell from a rowboat. He leaves a widow and three children (Rutland Daily Herald (Rutland, VT), March 17, 1936).

The widow was Clesilde D. “Lizzie” (Blouin) Custeau, and the three children were Emma P. (Custeau) Vachon, Delia A. (Custeau) Eldridge, and George A. Custeau.

Surviving daughter Emma P. (Custeau) Vachon later married Edward E. Ramsey, becoming thereby Emma Ramsey. Yes, that Emma Ramsey.

Milton native and theatrical designer Robert E. Jones’ birthday was noticed in the previous year. Here is described some of his Hollywood color work for Hollywood movies.

Jones, Robert E - BG360321A
Robert E. Jones

NEW ENGLAND IN HOLLYWOOD. Home Town Folk Who Are Making the Movies. By Mayme Ober Peak, Staff Correspondent in the Movie Capitol. Robert Edmond Jones, Film Color Expert, from Milton, N.H., and Harvard. Until the arrival of Robert Edmond Jones, Natalie Kalmus was the only color expert out here. He is the color designer at Pioneer Pictures, and is the genius behind the first all-color two-reeler, “La Cucaracha,” and the color captain of “Becky Sharp,” the first all-color feature. He is currently at work on “Dancing Pirates.” Here he is with Lloyd Corrigan, right, director of the picture. Jones was born on a farm in Milton, N.H. He prepared for Harvard at the local High School and earned the tuition for his freshman year by teaching in a small country school. During his last three years in Cambridge he earned his way by teaching in the department of fine arts. The first stage designing he did was for “Salome,” put on for an audience of six in an undergraduate’s room. Kenneth MacGowan, one of the six, later persuaded a New York producer to give Jones a chance. He became noted for his novel stage settings, and soon the movies beckoned. He was the color designer for “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” the first all-color outdoor picture, now showing at the Metropolitan Theatre in Boston. In this scene from the film are, left to right, Fred Stone, Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney. On the right Fonda is on the receiving end of Fred MacMurray’s punch (Boston Globe, March 25, 1936).

Jones, Robert E - BG360321B
Robert E. Jones and Lloyd Corrigan

Here we bid farewell to Mrs. Martha A. (Miller) Stevens, who we have seen traveling often (in 1933 and 1934) from Northfield, VT, to visit her husband at his work residence in Milton Mills. (He was superintendent of the Miltonia Mills there).

MRS. G.A. STEVENS Northfield Falls Resident Dies of Pneumonia – Funeral Sunday. (Special to the Free Press). NORTHFIELD FALLS, April 24. Mrs. George A. Stevens died last night after a four days’ illness of pneumonia. Mrs. Stevens accompanied a funeral party to Hinesburg Monday afternoon and was taken ill with pneumonia Monday night. She died last night at 10:45. The former Miss Martha Agnes Miller, daughter of Elias and Mary Miller, she was born in Acton, Me., April 5, 1867. March 22, 1890, she was married to George A. Stevens at Milton Mills, N.H. They lived at Milton Mills, N.H., Hinsdale. N.H., and Lebanon. N.H., for a time, and came to Northfield Falls in 1911, where they have since resided. In the 25 years spent in this village Mrs. Stevens has endeared herself to many in the community by her willingness to help in times of trouble and her house was always open to any social events. At her home she cared for her son after his wife died, and two grandchildren. Her son died in August, 1933. She was a loyal member of the Methodist Church, Ladies’ Aid Society, William H. Boynton Circle, No. 6. Ladies of the G.A.R. and the Eastern Star at Hinsdale, N.H. She is survived by her husband, three grandchildren, Elwin, George and Elliott Stevens; three sisters, Mrs. Albert Simes of Milton Mills, N.H., Mrs. Elizabeth Rhodes of Rochester. N.H., and Mrs. Frank Hammond of Nantasket, Mass. Funeral services will be held at the home Sunday afternoon at 1:30 o’clock (Burlington Free Press, April 25, 1936).

Her gravestone inscription includes the phrase “Watching and Waiting.” Perhaps watching for G.A. Stevens to return home from work?

An unfortunate newlywed bride from Kittery, ME, died suddenly in a Milton hotel while on her honeymoon.

Charles E. Woods, a public school janitor, aged fifty-three years (b. NH), headed a Kittery, ME, household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Julia E. Woods, aged fifty-two years (b. ME), his children, Dorothy E. Woods, aged eighteen years (b. ME), and Eldridge B. Woods, aged seventeen years (b. ME).

BRIDE OF WEEK DIES SUDDENLY Cause of Milton, N.H., Death Undetermined. MILTON, N.H., July 3. Mrs. Dorothy Woods Warren, the bride since last Saturday of Town Clerk Kenneth C. Warren of Cornish, Me., died suddenly this morning at a hotel here where the couple had been spending their honeymoon. The cause of death is undetermined and an autopsy is to be performed. Mr. and Mrs. Warren were married last Saturday at the First Congregational Church at Kittery Point, Me., the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Woods. Mrs. Warren had been a teacher for the past five years at the Farragut School, Portsmouth, N.H., and previously taught for one year at Madison, N.H. She was graduated from the Robert W. Trait Academy, Kittery, and Portsmouth Training School. She was a member of the Piscataqua Chapter, O.E.S., having held office in that organization, and also a member of the Portsmouth Training School Alumni Association. Besides her husband and parents she leaves three brothers, Myron and Eldridge Woods of Augusta, Me., and Phillip Woods of Medford, Mass.; also two sisters, Mrs. George Metrolis of Washington, D.C., and Mrs. John Hamm of Kittery (Boston Globe, July 3, 1936).

Milton death records attributed her death to “probably” acute gastritis, which she had endured for several hours, along with anemia and “probably” some form of heart disease. Forrest L. Keay, M.D., Strafford County medical examiner, reported the death. (It would have been one of the last recorded by long-term Milton Town Clerk Harry L. Avery (see below)).

Miss Estelle Geyer of Milton was part of a Young Republican trio that named a real live elephant as a Republican (or G.O.P.) election mascot. (The use of an elephant as Republican mascot dates from an 1874 Thomas Nast cartoon).

GOP Elephant - BG360804REPUBLICANS GREET ELEPHANT, ARRIVING FOR FALL CAMPAIGN. “Baby” Mascot Weighing 1200 Pounds Christened Susannah Aboard Ship at Charlestown Dock – Thorough Training Planned. There were “big” doings aboard the German steamer Frankenwald this morning at pier 46, Mystic docks, Charlestown. The reason was the arrival from Ceylon, India, by way of Hamburg, Ger., of a “baby” elephant. It was no ordinary animal. It was, in fact, a very special elephant for it made the long 14-day journey to become the mascot of the Republican party in New England. And for that reason, it received a welcome as should be given a mascot. There was a reception committee on hand of Republicans and there was a “christening” of the 1200-pound, three-year-old baby, which is valued at $700. As the contents of a bottle of California wine was poured over the “gentle” animal’s head (he was especially selected for that quality), it was officially christened Susannah by Mrs. Charles Coleman of Rochester, N.H., vice chairman of the Young Republicans of New Hampshire, in the presence of Leverett Saltonstall, Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Massachusetts. Mrs. Coleman, together with Miss Estelle Geyer of Milton, N.H., and Miss Priscilla Boynton of Portsmouth, N.H., came as the representatives of Gov Bridges of New Hampshire and as representatives of the state committee. They were up about 5.30 this morning in order to get down from West Lebanon, Me., in time for the party. They drove down in an automobile equipped with loud speaker which is to be used in the Republican campaign. Also present for the ceremony was Representative Horace T. Cahill of Braintree. Susannah, which on the way over was called Joombo by the German crew, made the trip on deck over one of the hatches. She was docile enough when standing on deck but when attempts were made to place her in a large wooden crate to be hoisted out on the dock she voiced her displeasure in no uncertain terms, grunting and trumpeting, and actually getting down on her knees. That unpleasant bit of work was postponed for her when it was decided to have the christening on board. On one other occasions she made herself loudly heard and that was at exactly the moment that Mr. Saltonstall began to walk up on the covered hatch to join the christening party. The elephant is to receive special training during the Summer, in accordance with the desire of the New England Republicans, who plan to use Susannah in their Fall campaign throughout New England. And so, she is to be taught how to walk up staircases of hotels and public halls, and how to walk gracefully into hotel dining rooms without upsetting the composure of the diners, and how to ride in trucks over the road, without being jumpy all over. She is also, so it was rumored, to be taught how to hold a contribution box in her ample trunk. The animal was especially selected by the Hagenbeck Circus people of Hamburg for John T. Benson, famous animal trainer, who operates an animal farm in Nashua, N.H. The elephant was taken by truck to his farm, there to be trained by Carl Neusser, elephant trainer. Susannah was cleared through the customs by Joseph V. Lane, who represented John A. Conkey & Co, custom house brokers (Boston Globe, August 4, 1936).

Gov. Alf M. Landon and his running mate, Col. John Knox, were the Republican presidential candidates running against incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his running mate, John N. Garner. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won New Hampshire with a plurality of 108,460 votes (49.73%), while Republican Alf Landon received 104,642 votes (47.98%), Unionist William Lemke received 4,819 votes (2.21), and Communist Earl R. Browder received 193 votes (0.09%).

ELEPHANT FOR G.O.P. ARRIVES. Susannah to Be Trained for Campaign. Met by Leaders – McGrath Has His Joke. The arrival of a live “baby” elephant from India in Boston yesterday to be used by the Republicans of New England as their mascot in the coming campaign, did little to upset the composure of Democratic leaders, who saw in it a chance to have a little fun with their political opponents. Said Chairman Joseph McGrath of the Democratic state committee with a laugh: “In order to satisfy the Republican rank and file in Massachusetts who desire to actually see their candidate for President, the Republican leaders here have gone pretty far afield when they went into the jungles of India to produce a substitute.” Republicans took a different view of the matter. Three attractive young women, active in the work of the Young Republicans of New Hampshire, arose about 5:30 yesterday morning, in order to reach the German steamer Frankenwald, tied up at Pier 46, Mystic Docks, Charlestown, in time for naming the animal. They drove up from West Lebanon, Me, where they were stopping at a camp. YR-Landon-Knox-1936They came in an automobile especially fitted out with sound amplifying equipment and a campaign sunflower sign with the slogan, “Landon and Knox,” affixed to their car. The group comprised Mrs. Charles Coleman of Rochester, N.H; Miss Estelle Geyer of Milton, N.H., and Miss Priscilla Boynton of Portsmouth, N.H. The group were joined later by Leverett Saltonstall, Republican candidate for Lieut. Governor in this state, and by Representative Horace T. Cahill of Braintree. In due time a bottle of California wine was produced, and Mrs. Coleman, pouring its contents over the elephant’s head, Christened it “Susannah.” “Susannah” is to go in to training at the Benson animal farm at Nashua, N.H., in preparation for the coming political campaign. She is to be taught, among other things, how to climb stairs, how to make an appearance in hotel dining rooms, and how to hold a contribution box in her trunk, it was said (Boston Globe, August 5, 1936).

Mrs. Marian E. (Grant) Morton of Lynn, MA, suffered laceration injuries when her husband drove their car into a Milton roadside ditch after a blowout.

Henry M. Morton, a shoe-shop shoe manufacturer, aged fifty-nine years (b. Canada), headed a Lynn, MA, household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of thirty-three years), Marian Morton, aged fifty-five years (b. Canada). Henry M. Morton rented their house at 38 Rockaway Street, for $28 per month. They did not have a radio set.

LYNN WOMAN INJURED BADLY AT MILTON, N.H. ROCHESTER. N.H., Sept. 28. Mrs. Henry N. Morton, 38 Rockaway st., Lynn, Mass., was badly cut about the face and chest today when the car in which she was riding, operated by her husband, went into a ditch rear Milton when a right front tire blew out. She was treated by Dr. M.A.H. Hart of Milton (Boston Globe, September 29, 1936).

Milton merchant and long-term Town Clerk, Harry L. Avery, died of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage, on Wednesday night, September 30.

Harry L. Avery was born in Milton, January 28, 1864, son of Brackett F. and Susan V. (Varney) Avery. He married in Milton, November 17, 1894, Hattie L. Pinkham, both of Milton. Rev. Frank Haley performed the ceremony. She was born in Milton, January 28, 1859, daughter of Nathaniel G. and Emily E. (Corliss) Pinkham. (She died in Milton, May 21, 1922).

Harry L. Avery appeared as Town Clerk in Milton business directories of 1898, 1901, 1904, 1905-06, 1909, 1912, 1917, and 1930. He appeared also as a partner in the lumber and building supplies firm of Avery, Jones, and Roberts or just Avery and Roberts.

Harry L. Avery, a retail dry goods merchant, aged sixty-six years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his child, Louise P. Avery, aged thirty-two years (b. NH). Harry L. Avery owned their house on Charles Street, which was valued at $1,200. They did not have a radio set.

TOWN CLERK FOR 40 YEARS, DEAD. Milton, N.H., Oct. 1. – The many friends of Harry A. Avery of Milton will be sorry to learn of his sudden death at his home here Wednesday night at the age of 72. Mr. Avery was serving his 40th year as town clerk of Milton and is one of the oldest town clerks in point of service in the state. For many years he was a member in the business firm of Avery-Roberts company. He is survived by a son, Theron, a daughter Louise, with whom he lived, and a sister, Miss Sally Avery, all of Milton. He was a member of Masonic bodies (Portsmouth Herald, October 1, 1936).

TOWN CLERK DIES. MILTON. N.H., Oct 1. Harry L. Avery, 72, Town Clerk here for 40 years died last night. He had lived in Milton all his life (Berkshire Eagle, October 1, 1936).

M.A.H. Hart, M.D., reported the death. Avery’s deputy clerk, Ruth L. Plummer, recorded his death information.

Burglars broke into two stores and stole cigarettes, beer, and cash, before sitting down at the scene of the crime for a bit of a party. Cigarettes were then 14¢ per pack or 27¢ for two packs ($90 / 0.14 = 642 packs of cigarettes).

MILTON AND LEBANON STORES BURGLARIZED. MILTON, N.H., Nov. 4. Burglars broke into a store here early today and also across the river in Lebanon, Me., and then staged a party with part of the loot. At the store of Nick Sarkes, on Main st. here, $90 worth of cigarettes and $10 in cash was taken after the burglars broke in a window and released the door catch. Going into Maine, they removed four cases of beer, from the Tanner store, then sat on the steps and drank part of the beer and smoked some of the stolen cigarettes. The break here is being investigated by Chief Fred Downs and Deputy Sheriff Stanley Tanner, and in Lebanon Deputy Sheriff H.S. Hall is being assisted by Deputy Tanner (Boston Globe, November 5, 1936; Portsmouth Herald, November 5, 1936).

The Ephraim Plummer house, dating from circa 1786, burned to the ground in November 1936. The reporter retold also the rather peculiar legend of one of its residents, who had died there twenty-four years before the fire.

FLAMES DESTROY PLUMMER HOUSE. Son Stayed in Bed 50 Years After Row Over Girl. WEST MILTON, N.H., Nov. 23 (AP) – Only two fire-blackened chimneys remained today of the 150-year-old Ephraim Plummer farmhouse, where Joseph Plummer stayed in bed for 50 years because his father objected to his love affair. Tradition has it that Joseph, then a young man of 22, talked one night with his father about a girl on a neighboring farm with whom he was in love. The father told him to stop talking and go to bed, and Joseph walked immediately to his bedroom. From that night until he died at the age of 72. Joseph never left his bed. He died Aug. 15, 1912, with a white beard reaching to his waist (Boston Globe, November 23, 1936).

Samuel Plumr, a farmer, aged fifty-three years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Eliza Plumr, aged forty-eight years (b. NH), Joseph Plumr, a farmer, aged twenty years (b. NH), Ephraim Plumr, a farmer, aged sixteen years (b. NH), Samuel Plumr, Jr., aged ten years, and Stephen Wentworth, a farm laborer, aged fifty-four years (b. NH).

Joseph Plummer appeared in 1870 as being “at home,” while his father was a “farmer” and his two brothers were “farm laborers.” In 1880, only his aged father appeared as a working “farmer,” while Joseph and his two brothers were all said to be “at home.” In 1900, with both parents now passed and only the three brothers in residence, Joseph Plumer’s occupation was given as “invalid,” while his two brothers were “farm laborers.”

West Milton. Joseph Plummer passed away at the old homestead last Wednesday after a lingering illness covering thirty-five years, the last thirty-one of which he has been confined to his bed the greater part of the time. He was 72 years of age and death which was hourly expected the last two weeks was due to a complication of diseases. Mr. Plummer was born in 1840 In the ancestral home where his death occurred and was the second son of Samuel and Eliza (Rocker) Plummer, both residents of this town. He received his education in the district schools and displayed unusual ability as a scholar.  As the eldest son died in childhood, it was the parental decree that in Joseph should repose the power of administration of their prospering possessions. But a fatal destiny was there to play its deadly part and rob them of their heart’s desire. When in the pride of early manhood disease laid its hold upon him before those parents should be required to relinquish the responsibilities of life to him in whom they had placed their confidence. The parents soon died and  the two younger brothers, Samuel and Ephraim, fell the duties that had been planned for Joseph, and also the care of their unfortunate brother, a duty which they have performed with an untiring devotion during [years] of a helpless illness.

Joseph’s mother, Eliza (Ricker) Plummer, died of “dropsy” in Milton, June 21, 1873, aged sixty-two years and four months. (Dropsy is the older name for what is now termed edema). Joseph’s father, Samuel Plummer, died of pneumonia in Milton, July 13, 1881, aged seventy-four years, six months, and nineteen days.

Mr. Plummer was a character to whom much interest was centered and it always was a source of wonder to those who came in personal touch with him how, in his circumscribed life, he could be so well posted on current events. He was a great reader and possessed a rare faculty of gleaning and summarizing from his literature those facts and thoughts that were of the most intellectual value. He was also a very keen observer and throughout the narrow confines of his window he daily watched the process of tilling the farms on the hillside across the valley. Though his eyes and the occasional callers were his only couriers, from them he posted himself with amazing thoroughness. He delighted in relating to visitors the incidents of the active period of his life and from this indulgence it could be seen that his youth had not passed without its touch of romance. The absence of the cheery light that shown from his window as a beacon through the long nights of many years, reminded those whose homes lay across the valley of a true sense of the loss of the patient sufferer who had watched them at their labors. Mr. Plummer is survived by the brothers referred to, who for years have been almost his sole companions. The funeral was held at home Sunday at 2 o’clock, many friends and relatives attending. Rev. S.D. Church of Rochester officiated with Charles Fox in charge. Bearers were George Canney, John Haynes, James Johnson and Thomas Corson. Interment was in the family lot on the farm (Farmington News, August 1912).

Joseph Plumer, own income, aged seventy years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his brothers, Ephraim Plumer, a general farm farmer, aged sixty-five years (b. NH), and Samuel Plumer, a home farm helper, aged sixty years (b. NH).

It would seem to be largely true that Joseph Plummer did spend much of thirty-one years in bed as an invalid. As for the reason having been a thwarted love affair, the census has nothing to say.

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1935; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1937


Find a Grave. (2017, January 2). Aldridge Custeau. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2017, June 6). Dorothy Emily Woods Warren. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2014, June 3). Emma Phoebe Custeau Ramsey. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2019, August 15). Martha A. Miller Stevens. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, November 1). Alf Landon. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, October 11). Edema. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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