Milton in the News – 1938

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 28, 2019

In this year, we encounter a former Milton teacher’s appointment as a college trustee, an earthquake, a Milton Mills farm for sale, a fatal auto accident, the death of a visiting native, completion of NH Route 75, Rev. Leland Maxfield’s wedding, the Great New England Hurricane of ’38, and a Milton Mills fire.

This was also the year in which National Socialist (Nazi) Germany annexed the Austrian Republic, on March 12, 1938, and the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland region, on October 1, 1938.

Katherine L. Gardner graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, in 1914, and taught for “a few years” thereafter at Milton, prior to taking a position as a stenographer at Amherst College in Amherst, MA. (She was there as early as 1920, and married her husband there in 1925).

Years later, we find Massachusetts Governor Hurley appointing her as a trustee at the State College in Amherst, MA, i.e., the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. There were apparently some ruffled political feathers associated with her appointment, not associated with her, but with the protocol and the nature of the hierarchy.

HURLEY DENIES SLIGHTING BAKER. Declares Mrs. Canavan Qualified for Trustee. Gov. Hurley emphatically denied yesterday that he intended any slight to Pres. Hugh B. Baker of the State College when he appointed as a college trustee Mrs. Katherine G. Canavan, whose husband is superintendent of the college’s dairying department and a subordinate of Pres. Baker. “Mrs. Canavan is exceptionally well qualified for the position,” commented the Governor, “and the fact that her husband happens to be an employee of the college should not be held against her.” There have been repeated but unconfirmed rumors that the Governor has been at odds with Pres. Baker. The basis for these rumors was the fact that Howard Bidwell, recently discharged superintendent of the power plant, has been given the opportunity by the Governor to call and question college officials at a public hearing. When confirmed Mrs. Canavan will become one of the 14 trustees of the college and achieve distinction at an institution where she worked about 15 years ago as a stenographer. It was while she was working at the college that she met and married her husband. Upon her marriage she gave up her position at the college and went to live at a home in the town. Her husband, Frank Canavan, continued his employment at the college and rose to be head of his department. The couple have five youngsters, some of whom plan to attend classes at the college. In addition to his work at the college Mr. Canavan has been chairman of the Democratic Town Committee and, in the last election, was a staunch supporter of Gov. Hurley. Mrs. Canavan is well known and well liked at Amherst. She is the daughter of the late Prof. George E. Gardner of Boston University and is a sister of Prof. George K. Gardner of Harvard Law School. She is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and for a few years was a teacher at Milton, N.H., and later at Rawlins, Wyo. (Boston Globe, April 1, 1938).

Milton felt briefly the tremors of an earthquake on April Fools’ Day, April 1, 1938. (Eighty years later, Farmington, NH, experienced a 2.1 magnitude earthquake on December 3, 2018, which was felt also in Milton).

HOUSES ARE SHAKEN IN N.H. AND MAINE. Slight Tremor Reported Lasting 11 Seconds. Special Dispatch to the Globe. ROCHESTER, N.H., April 1. Rattling dishes and shaking pictures from the wall, an earthquake tremor alarmed residents of several towns within a 10-mile radius of Rochester early tonight. Floors swayed and glasses tinkled on mantelpieces in East Rochester and Milton, N.H., and South and West Lebanon, across the river in Maine, as telephone calls flooded police and telephone stations here between 9:15 and 9:30. Mrs. Helen Piper, telephone operator at Milton, said the telephone exchange building shook. She heard a rumbling noise, she declared, and a moment later telephone subscribers for miles around flooded the exchange with inquiries asking where the explosion was. Rev. Leland Maxfield, pastor of the Community Church at Milton, said it felt as though “some large object had rolled downhill and struck the house.” Another Milton resident, Ira W. Jones, said he believed a meteor had exploded. Pictures shook on the mantel of her room, one West Lebanon, Me., woman reported, while another said floors swayed and cellars seemed to rumble (Boston Globe, April 2, 1938).

Charles E. Piper, a public utility agent, aged fifty years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. HIs household included his wife, Helen [(Pray)] Piper, a telephone co. agent, aged fifty-two years (b. NH). Charles E. Piper owned their house on Main Street, Milton Community, which was valued at $1,200.

Leland Maxfield, a minister, aged thirty years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Elizabeth [(Bronson)] Maxfield, aged twenty-seven years (b. NY), and his boarders, Mary E. Willard, aged twenty-nine years (b. MA), and Mary E. Sherborne, aged twenty-three years (b. ME). Leland Maxfield rented their house on Church Street, for $10 per month.

Ira W. Jones, no occupation listed (presumably retired), aged eighty-five years (b. NH), headed a Lebanon, ME, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Lucie C. [(Wentworth)] Jones, aged seventy-two years (b. NH), and his daughter, Mary C. Jones, aged forty-five years (b. NH). Ira W. Jones owned their house, which was valued at $4,500.

Here was offered for sale a nine-room house (ten rooms when counting the bathroom), on a 140-acre property on the right-hand side of the Milton Mills road that was off the main highway, i.e., off the White Mountain Highway.

THE REAL ESTATE MARKET. MILTON, N.H. FOR SALE – Country estate of 140 acres, 9-room house, bath and barn on Milton Mills road. Belmont 3659 or see owner on property June 18 and 19; first house on right side of Milton Mills road, off main highway. 3t je16 (Boston Globe, June 16, 1938).

Real Estate. HOUSE FOR SALE. 10-ROOM colonial house in beautiful setting, ideal for Summer or year-round: modern in every respect, including 4 fireplaces, barn and workshop; good bathing and fishing: easy driving distance to White Mountains. Call Bel. 3569, or will be on property Saturday and Sunday. Milton Mills road, Milton, N.H. Milton Mills 31, ring 2 (Boston Globe, June 25, 1938).

Real Estate. MILTON, N.H. 10-ROOM colonial house in beautiful setting, ideal for Summer or year-round: modem in every respect, including 4 fireplaces, barn and workshop; good bathing and fishing; easy driving distance to White Mountains. Call Bel. 3559, or will be on property Saturday, Sunday. Milton Mills road. Milton, N.H.; Milton Mills 31, ring 2. dSu3t jy1 (Boston Globe, July 1, 1938).

Milton Mills road, off the main highway, sounds like what is now known as Applebee Road.

A Melrose rusticator died when his automobile went off the White Mountain Highway in Milton, three miles short of Milton Three Ponds village.

Charles G. Bodley, a manufacturer’s agent for a wholesale plumbing supplier, aged forty-four years (b. MA), headed a Melrose, MA, household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of eight years), Katherine H. Bodley, aged thirty years (b. NV), and his children, Charles H. Bodley, aged seven years (b. MA), Joyce Bodley, aged three years (b. MA), and Katherine A. Bodley, aged one year (b. MA). Charles G. Bodley owned their house at 74 Harold Street, which was valued at $8,000. They had a radio set.

CRASH KILLS MELROSE MAN. Car Goes Over Wall, Hits Tree in Milton, N.H. MILTON, N.H., July 8. Charles G. Bodley, 52, of 74 Harold st., Melrose, Mass., was instantly killed shortly after midnight this morning when his automobile left a road three miles outside of town and hurtled over a stone wall, striking two trees. The wreck of his car was discovered by George E. Jordan of this town. State Motor Vehicles Inspector Harold M. Foss, state trooper Frank D. Manning and patrolman Wilfred Grenier went to the scene and reported that Bodley’s car had traveled more than 100 feet along a deep ditch at the roadside before hitting the wall. Medical Referee Dr. Forrest L. Keay of Rochester said that the man died instantly. He was alone in his car. According to papers found in Bodley’s pockets he was a member of the Melrose Legion Post and the Grand Lodge of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. The Bodley family is spending vacation in a camp at Horn Pond, Milton Mills, N.H. Mr. Bodley was formerly employed as a manufacturer’s agent (Boston Globe, July 8, 1938).

George E. Jordan maintained a Milton filling station, presumably one in South Milton near to the crash.

Milton death records state that Charles G. Bodley died of a “fracture of skull when his automobile ran off the road into a stone wall and trees. No other auto involved and he rode alone.” The death, and therefore the accident, occurred at about 10:45 PM on the night of July 7. Louise P. Avery (daughter of the Milton Town Clerk who had died in 1936) recorded the death. Frank F. Spencer (whose Milton Mills house, barn and funeral parlor would burn down in October) served as funeral director.

A visiting Milton native, Alta Durgin (Chipman) Cleaves, died while vacationing in Milton. She was born in Milton, September 18, 1895, daughter of Edwin and Bertha (Drew) Chipman, and married in Milton, September 3, 1916, Frank H. Cleaves.

MRS. ALTA CLEAVES. MILTON, N.H., July 7. Stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage while vacationing here, Mrs. Alta Cleaves, proprietor of a Boston employment bureau, died here tonight. Mrs. Cleaves, who resides at 115 Gallivan boulevard, Dorchester, was taken ill early this evening at the home of her mother. Mrs. Bertha Chipman, in this town. Besides her mother, Mrs. Cleaves leaves two sisters, Mrs. Clara Kimball of Milton, N.H., and Mrs. Lois Fogg of Sanbornville, N.H. Services will be held at her mother’s residence, Sunday afternoon (Boston Globe, July 8, 1938).

It would seem to have been Ralph J. Chesley of Farmington, NH, who “built the roads” between Farmington, NH, and Milton.

He supervised construction of the state highway, i.e., NH Route 75, a 5.5 mile stretch of road between Farmington, NH (at NH Route 11), and Milton (at NH Route 125), over a period of three seasons. His crew is projected here to complete the final quarter mile by the end of July 1938. Their work would have consisted largely of reworking existing roads.

Ralph J. Chesley appeared in the Dover directory of 1936, as a farmer, housed on the Ten Rod Road (RD 2) in Farmington, NH.

NH Route 75 SignageFARMINGTON TO COMPLETE STATE ROAD TO CONNECT WITH MILTON. Work was commenced on Tuesday this week toward the completion of the final 1286 feet of unfinished highway construction required to connect the towns of Farmington and Milton with a permanent stretch of state highway which has been in process of construction the past two seasons. The work was resumed in charge of former Road Agent Ralph J. Chesley, under whose supervision the former work was done. With good weather favoring the project, it is expected the connecting link will be finished by the end of July (Farmington News, July 8, 1938).

Ralph J. Chesley, a portable sawmill loader, aged forty-five years (b. NH), headed a Farmington, NH, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Ethel Chesley, aged forty-two years (b. NH), and his children, Lois Chesley, aged seventeen years (b. NH), and Pauline Chesley, aged thirteen years (b. NH). Ralph J. Chesley owned their farm on the Ten Rod Road, which was valued at $1,600.

Rev. Leland Maxfield of the Milton Community Church married Miss Elizabeth Bronson of Boston, July 21, 1938.

BOSTON NURSE WEDS MILTON, N.H., PASTOR. Miss Bronson Is Bride of Rev. Leland Maxfield. Special to the Globe. MILTON, N.H, July 21. Rev. Leland Maxfield, pastor of the Community Church, and Miss Elizabeth Z. Bronson of Boston were married this evening at 6 o’clock at the church by Rev. J. Westfield Bronson of Brookline, brother of the bride. Miss Ruth Butler of Whitman, Mass., was maid of honor and the best man was Rev. James Marshall of Medford, Mass. The ushers were Rev. Ernest D. Sillers, pastor of the Baptist Church, East Rochester; Rev. Leslie Beinstadt of Beverly, Mass., field secretary of the Christian Endeavor Societies of Massachusetts, and Rev. James Currie, pastor of the Baptist Church at Milton Mills, N.H. Mr. Maxfield is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Maxfield of Rochester. He graduated from Gordon College of Theology and Missions in Boston in 1935. Mrs. Maxfield is a graduate of the Memorial Hospital Training School for Nurses, Albany, N.Y., and Gordon College, Boston, and has been employed as a supervisor in the Deaconess Hospital, Boston (Boston Globe, July 22, 1938).

The Hurricane of 1938 made landfall first at Long Island, NY, and then Connecticut on September 21, proceeded through western Massachusetts and along the New Hampshire-Vermont border, during the night of September 21-22, then through Vermont, on September 22, finally dissipating in Ontario, Canada, September 23.

It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane to strike New England probably ever, and certainly the worst since the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635. Milton was fortunate in not having been directly in its path and would have experienced mostly severe wind damage, with attendant loss of trees, power and telephone lines.

Recovery Problems Face New England As Waters Recede. Death List Has Climbed To More Than 400; Plans For Rehabilitation Are Now Under Way. Boston, Sept. 24. Receding flood waters along the wide Connecticut and Merrimack rivers today left battered Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut with a staggering recovery problem. With a hurricane death toll in Rhode Island around 240; the-known dead for all six states had climbed well above 400. As rescue-workers cut their way through to isolated communities, the chance grew the dead eventually might number 500. More than a hundred perished as a tidal wave engulfed the Westerly, R.I., area. The Connecticut river subsiding at Hartford, Conn., after reaching its second highest level in 300 years, still menaced a densely populated tenement district protected by sand bags. Three thousand persons were flood refugees. Sand bag dykes also protected the Massachusetts industrial cities of Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill as the crest of the Merrimack river headed seaward. In Boston, Mass., Gov. Charles F. Hurley announced the situation in the Bay State was “under control.” He called his executive council into emergency session again. Massachusetts reconstruction centered along flooded Cape Cod and in western Mass. In the summer resort towns of Falmouth, Mass., alone, on the southern shore of the Cape, town officials estimated damage at $1,000,000. New Hampshire’s tall pines and slim branches were snapped and leveled by the thousands, airplane observers reported. They said the damage would take months to estimate. Peterboro, N.H., ravaged by fire, flood and hurricane, set its loss at more than $1,000,000 in a radio message from the still isolated community. Meanwhile communication was being restored slowly in the Granite State. The Boston and Main railroad announced resumption of service to many New Hampshire and Vermont stations. An estimated 200,00 telephones were out of service. The New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. said 250,000 miles of wire would have to be replaced. White River Junction, Vt., long out of contact with the rest of New England said that 50 families were flooded from their homes. Four batteries of artillery were ordered out later today by Mass. authorities – ordered to shoot to kill to prevent looting in guarding the territory in the vicinity of Wareham on Cape Cod. Two units were mobilized in Boston and when added to those already on duty will raise the total to 500 patrolling Cape Cod streets. Gov. Francis P. Murphy of New Hampshire called a meeting of the executive council to discuss measures of re-habilitation. Authorities believed damage thoughout the state might reach $20,000,000. President Roosevelt has been asked for federal assistance. One of the hardest hit communities was the little town of East Weare. A toy factory, creamery and other buildings were wiped out with a loss of $250,000, The Summit House observatory and radio-tower on Mt. Washington escaped serious damage; The maximum velocity of wind during the height of the storm was reported as 200 miles an hour (Portsmouth Herald, September 24, 1938).

$75,000 DAMAGE TO COG RAILWAY, MT. WASHINGTON. Mt. Washington, Sept. 24. Damage to the Mt. Washington Cog railway was estimated at $75,000 by Col. Henry Teague as a result of Wednesday night’s gale, the results of which became known yesterday. With the wind blowing at an average velocity of 165 miles per hour, but reaching more than 200 miles per hour in gusts, the railway trestle known as Jacob’ s Ladder was torn from its moorings and carried more than 150 feet. Windows on the east side of the Summit house were torn out with their frames, and the runway between the old Tip-Top house and the Summit house was destroyed, but the short-wave radio station withstood the blasts, according to people coming down the mountain yesterday. A 135-foot long ice house near the base station was leveled. Col. Teague, proprietor of the cog railway, announced service would be given Sunday from the base station to the Half-Way house. It will be impossible to repair the remainder of the line this year, he said, but reconstruction will be carried out for the 1939 season (Portsmouth Herald, September 24, 1938).

TO OUR CUSTOMERS. In most communities served by us, repairs to electrical lines have reached the point where we can concentrate our attention on individual homes and factories that are without electrical service. If you are one of these, please so inform our nearest district office. At present it is impossible for us to run new service entrances. If the service pipe attached to the outside of your home or factory is damaged in any way, we cannot restore your service, until the service pipe has been repaired by your electrical contractor. Our line crews are working to the limit of endurance. We are hiring all the experienced linemen we can get. , but it is almost impossible to find properly equipped line crews. It will be a great help to the progress of electrical repairs if trees, branches and debris are removed so that line crews can concentrate on line work when they reach the neighborhood. WARNING! Please continue to regard ALL FALLEN WIRES As ALIVE And DANGEROUS At All Times. DO NOT TOUCH THEM Under Any Circumstances. New Hampshire Division of Twin State Gas & Electric (Farmington News, September 30, 1938).

MAPLE SUGAR CROP HARD HIT. A shortage in New Hampshire’s maple sugar crop for years to come has been forecast as farmers have reported on losses in the recent hurricane. The farm bureau federation and agricultural department officials reported that about 75 percent of sugar maple trees fell during the storm. It takes from 35 to 40 years to produce a maple sugar tree of bearing age, officials said. The well-known Paulson orchard in this [Farmington] town suffered a loss of about fifty of its best sugar maples (Farmington News, October 14, 1938).

Frank F. Spencer’s Milton Mills two-family house, barn, and funeral parlor burned in a fire of undetermined origin on October 9. (The headline should have had 6 N.H. persons escaping the fire, rather than 4).

Frank F. Spencer, and his [first] wife, Ramona W. [(Weston)] Spencer, appeared in the Milton directory of 1936-37, with he as an undertaker, and civil engineer, housed at Milton Mills. In point of fact, Frank F, and Ramona Spencer parted company at about that time. He married (2nd) in Rochester, NH, February 10, 1938, Lela A. (Bessey) Coleman. It would have been Lela Spencer that escaped from the fire with he and the two children.

4 N.H. PERSONS FLEE FIRE IN SLEEPING CLOTHES. MILTON MILLS, N.H., Oct 9 (AP). Frank Spencer, his wife and two children barely escaped in their sleeping clothes early today as fire of undetermined origin destroyed their home, barn and fully-equipped funeral parlor. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Flye, occupants of the second half of the duplex house, also escaped (Rutland Daily Herald (Rutland, VT), October 10, 1938).

Arthur M. Flye, aged seventy years (b. ME), headed a Milton (“Milton Mills”) household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife Delia M. [(Douglass)] Flye, aged seventy-one years (b. ME). Arthur M. Flye rented their house on Main Street, for $10 per month.

Frank F. Spencer, a funeral director undertaker, aged forty-seven years (b. ME). headed a Rochester, NH, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Lela Spencer, aged thirty-four years (b. NH), and his children, Fred Spencer, aged eighteen years (b. NH), Charles Spencer, aged ten years (b. NH), Ann Spencer, aged nine years (b. NH), and David Spencer, aged eight years (b. NH). Frank F. Spencer owned their house at 182 So. Main Street, which was valued at $10,000.

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1937; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1939


Find a Grave. (2013, November 25). Charles G. Bodley. Retrieved from

Find a Grave (2011, February 26). Ira W. Jones. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2015, May 20). Ralph John Chesley. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, November 20). 1938 New England Hurricane. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2015, May 13). New Hampshire Route 75. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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