Milton’s A.O.U.W. Hall – 1890-1925

By Muriel Bristol | July 3, 2022

Milton’s three-story A.O.U.W. Hall was built as both an investment and meeting place by Milton’s Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.) in 1890. The A.O.U.W. was a national fraternal organization (founded in 1868), whose members participated also in its innovative life insurance or death benefit program.

The Milton A.O.U.W. branch would have also a building association from May 1891. This building association would have made building loans and mortgages and occupied thus the niche usually filled by a local bank.

MILTON. Strafford Lodge, No. 2, A.O.U.W., had one new application at their last meeting, and expect to instruct two in the mysteries of the order at the next session (Farmington News, May 23, 1890).

MILTON. Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W., is well represented in foreign countries this week; the following members being on a fishing trip in Canadian waters: Geo. I. Jordan, W.P. Mitchell, George Wentworth, S. Lyman Hayes and D.V. Osborne (Farmington News, July 4, 1890).

Milton’s Strafford Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.) was incorporated with a capital stock of $4,000, December 13, 1890; and its Building Association was incorporated with a capital stock of $4,000, May 7, 1891 (NH Secretary of State, 1908).

MILTON. The Ancient Order of United workmen have leased a lot of land from the Great Falls Manufacturing company and commenced the foundation of a building, with a frontage of seventy-five feet, on Main street and thirty-five feet deep. This occupies the ground for several years taken up by Duntley’s blacksmith shop and two small buildings owned by John F. Hart, and will be devoted to business and lodge purposes. The plan provides for three stores and a grand entrance on the ground floor, a large hall for dramatics and other entertainments on the second floor, with Lodge room and necessary ante room on the upper floor. The small building used by F.A. Mark as a jeweler’s shop has been moved across the street and now stands on the hill just south of Kennett market. The blacksmith shop is on its journey and will stand partially in the rear of N.G. Pinkham‘s shoe store (Farmington News, October 10, 1890).

Milton - 1892 (Detail) - AOUW HallMILTON. The “Strafford” lodge, A.O.U.W., will dedicate their new hall on Friday evening Jan 23. A dance and supper will be the order of the evening. A general good time is expected.
Don’t forget the A.O.U.W. concert, dance and supper, Friday, 23d (Farmington News, January 23, 1891).

MILTON. The grand opening concert and ball given by Strafford lodge, A.O.U.W., Friday evening, Jan. 23, was an event in this quiet village that will long be pleasantly remembered. Spain’s orchestra of Rochester, furnished music, and the lovers of dancing enjoyed themselves to the utmost until an early hour in the morning. Fred A. Dowe officiated as floor manager with a competent board of assistants, and everything passed smoothly along. Refreshments were served in the dining room all through the evening, so there was no rush and guests and waiters appreciated the foresight in thus arranging. Seventy-five couples were counted on the grand march. Many visitors were present from Farmington, Rochester, East Rochester, Springvale, Milton Mills, Union and other places in the section. The gold watch, contested for by W.T. Wallace and Henry R. Johnson, was won by the latter, he having received $94.75, while his opponent had $71.40. The handsome cake basket presented to the lodge by Mr. Byers of Reading, Mass., was awarded to Mrs. Carrie Willey Kimball, who had $69.45 against $34.20 in the hands of Mrs. F.A. Dowe. In the upper hall various games were in progress, among the younger members of the audience, and every one had a good time. The affair was a financial success as well as a social one, about $400 being returned to the treasury of the lodge (Farmington News, January 30, 1891).

Arthur C. Watson (1865-1957) of North Shapleigh, ME, opened a grocery store within Milton’s A.O.U.W. Hall in 1891. He appeared later as a grocer in Sanford, ME, at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census.

MILTON. Arthur C. Watson, from North Shapleigh, has opened a grocery store in the A.O.U.W. building and has a fine line of family supplies. Gene Maddox has charge of the order department (Farmington News, January 30, 1891).

MILTON. The concert at A.O.U.W. hall, last Friday evening, was a very enjoyable affair and well attended. A snug little sum accrued from it, which is devoted towards payment for the new church organ. Building operations are brisk (Farmington News, June 12, 1891).

U.S. Senator Henry W. Blair (1834-192o) of Manchester, NH, gave an address to the Milton Republican Club in Milton’s A.O.U.W. hall in September 1892 (Farmington News, September 30, 1892). He introduced constitutional amendments favoring prohibition and women’s suffrage, and bills favoring prohibition, pensions, and common school funding.

Andover Academy elocution instructor J. Wesley Churchill, M.A. (1839-1900) of Andover, MA, gave a reading in the A.O.U.W. Hall in October 12, 1892, for the benefit of the Ladies Aid Society of the Milton Congregational Church.

MILTON. A reading is to be given here on Wednesday evening, Oct. 12, at 7.30 o’clock, in A.O.U.W. hall, by Prof. J. Wesley Churchill of Andover, Mass., in behalf of the Ladies Aid society of the Congregational church. Prof. Churchill’s name and fame have travelled all over New England among the very best audiences. Those who have once heard him will spare no effort to hear him here, and those who have not may realize that there is something still in store for them which they had not mistrusted. Admission 25 cents, children under twelve 15 cents (Farmington News, October 7, 1892).

In a similar reading Prof. Churchill had given in Fitchburg, MA, five months earlier in May 1892, he read selections from Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and others. “His selections are serious, imitative and humorous.” He had been accompanied by a vocalist (Fitchburg Sentinel, May 5, 1892).

A Mr. Nash, likely lawyer John B. Nash (1848-1921), of North Conway, NH, spoke to the local Democrats at the A.O.U.W. Hall. This would have been just prior to the Presidential election of November 1892, in which Democrat former President Grover Cleveland prevailed over Republican incumbent President Benjamin Harrison and Populist former Congressman James B. Weaver. (Incumbent President Harrison won in New Hampshire).

MILTON. Mr. Nash of North Conway addressed the democrats at the A.O.U.W. hall last week Thursday (Farmington News, October 21, 1892).

MILTON. Christmas tree at A.O.U.W. hall Saturday evening (Farmington News, December 23, 1892).

AOUW CertificateA.O.U.W. The founding, growth and success of the Ancient Order of United Workmen within the last quarter of a century has added a new feature and given a new interpretation to the social and fraternal relations of mankind and is solving a financial problem which for ages has battled the efforts and investigations of the philanthropist and economist. It has been made plain and demonstrated man’s duty to man brought him in contact with the wants of his fellow beings, opened his heart and purse-strings to the sufferings and deprivations of those less fortunate than himself and discovered and exemplified an easy and sure way for the future care and protection of loved and dependent ones. The St. Louis A.O.U.W. labor bureau since organization has received 1,200 applications for employment and has procured positions for about 700, or nearly 65 per cent of those applying. Texas jurisdiction is making rapid strides in gaining new members and organizing new lodges. Two hundred Winnipeg Workmen, accompanied by the grand master and other grand officers, attended church in a body lately and were headed by a band of music. Ancient Order of United Workmen, organised 1868, not a labor organization, but purely fraternal, paying $2,000 to wife, family or other dependents of members. Membership in the United States over 831,000, representing every profession, trade and business. Total amount paid beneficiaries, over $40,000,000 (Farmington News, August 25, 1893).

A.P. White gave an illustrated lecture on the World’s Columbian Exhibition, which had been held in Chicago, IL, in 1893.

MILTON. Mr. A.P. White’s lecture on the World’s Fair was delivered at the A.O.U.W. hall Saturday evening. With the lecture were displayed 100 stereopticon views (Farmington News, April 13, 1894).

J.E.W. Smith of East Parsonsfield, ME, was almost totally blind for four years from about 1882. Upon recovering his eyesight in 1886, he began giving select and dramatic readings (Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, October 25, 1886). He gave one at Milton’s A.O.U.W. Hall in August 1894.

MILTON. Prof. J.E.W. Smith gave a select reading at A.O.U.W. hall Monday evening (Farmington News, August 10, 1894).

MILTON. The ladies’ circle of the Congregational church hold a fair at the A.O.U.W. Hall Thursday and Friday of this week, afternoon and evening. Very complete preparations have been made and it can not prove anything but a success (Farmington News, December 7, 1894).

Here one may glimpse one the antecedents of the Milton Fire Department as a private fire association having its sixth annual ball at the A.O.U.W. Hall in January 1895. (One might assume that its first annual ball was held in 1889 and that the fire association and its fire company might have predated that first ball).

MILTON. Tri-Echo Fire Association of Milton will give its sixth annual ball at the A.O.U.W. hall, in that place, Friday evening of this week (Farmington News, January 25, 1895).

The Milton Town Report for the year ending March 1, 1897 included payments of $7.00 to W.T. Wallace, A.O.U.W., for town office rent; and $45.08 for a crossing in front of the A.O.U.W. building.

Shoe-cutter Samuel Y. Davis (1859-1920) of Farmington, NH, visited Milton’s A.O.U.W. Hall in his capacity of A.O.U.W. District Deputy in May 1897.

LOCALS. District Deputy Samuel Y. Davis, of the Ancient Order United Workmen, made on official visit to the new lodge at Milton on Wednesday evening of last week (Farmington News, May 28, 1897).

The local Madokawando “Tribe” of the rather unfortunately named Improved Order of Red Men (I.O.R.M. or “Red Men”), and its auxiliary, the Minnewawa “Council” met regularly at the A.O.U.W. Hall on alternating Mondays in 1897.

Madokawando, No. 21, Milton, 1st and 3d Monday, A.O.U.W. Hall; Edwin L. Leighton, P.O. Box [???], Milton.

Minnewawa, No. 15, Milton, 2d and 4th Monday, A.O.U.W. Hall; Mrs. Dora Hayes, P.O. Box 115, Milton (I.O.R.M., 1897). 

The Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W., appeared in the Milton directory of 1898, as a Milton society. The Milton Town Report for the year ending March 1, 1898 included a payment of $7.00 to the A.O.U.W. for town office rent.

The Milton Social Club held its third annual masquerade ball at the A.O.U.W. hall in Milton, in February 1899 (Boston Globe, February 4, 1899). (See Milton in the News – 1899). The Milton Town Report for the year ending March 1, 1900 included a payment of $7.00 to the A.O.U.W. Association for town office rent.

LOCAL. Mrs. Fred P. Jones gave a fine musical entertainment in A.O.U.W. hall in that town on Monday evening, May 27. Mrs. Grace Coffin and J.G. Coffin of Rochester with B.O. Danforth of West Lebanon (formerly of Cambridge) assisted as vocalist; Miss Annie Kimball, violinist; W.H. Willey, cornetist; Mark Dickey, pianist (Farmington News, May 31, 1901).

MILTON. The memorial exercises last Thursday afternoon, which were held at the A.O.U.W. hall, were largely attended. Rev. C. Osborne, of the Free Baptist church, was president of the day. There were several speakers and appropriate singing. The decorations were the best ever seen here, the work being done by Mrs. J.B. Hart, Mrs. C.H. Looney, and Robert Looney (Farmington News, September 27, 1901).

The Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W., appeared in the Milton directory of 1902, as a Milton Society.

MILTON. There was a Congregational church fair at the A.O.U.W. hall Wednesday afternoon, and about forty dollars were realized as the result (Farmington News, December 26, 1902).

MILTON. The Relief Corps gave an entertainment at A.O.U.W. hall, Monday evening. Mrs. James E. Hayes, president of the Farmington corps, gave an interesting and inspiring talk. There was prize speaking and Mary Jones of Prospect Hill school, and Robert Peacock of Nute Ridge school received a $5 prize each. There was a piano duet by Miss Bessie Chipman and her teacher, Miss Alice Fox; singing by a girl’s choir led by Mark Dickey. The entertainment was excellent and was largely attended (Farmington News, January 2, 1903).

The Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W., appeared in the Milton directory of 1904, as a Milton society.

The Milton Dramatic Club gave their second annual masquerade ball at the A.O.U.W. hall in Milton, January 8, 1904 (Boston Globe, January 8, 1904). Shove S. Symonds, a visiting MA A.O.U.W official gave a “smoke talk” at the Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W. hall in Milton in November 1904 (Boston Globe, November 27, 1904) (See Milton in the News – 1904).

The local Madokawando “Tribe” of the Improved Order of Red Men (I.O.R.M. or “Red Men”), and its auxiliary, the Minnewawa “Council” met regularly at the A.O.U.W. Hall on alternating Mondays in 1906.

Madokawando, No. 21, Milton, 1st and 3d Monday, A.O.U.W. Hall; Chas. A. Gilmore, P.O. Box 112, Milton.

Minnewawa, No. 15, Milton, 2d and 4th Monday, A.O.U.W. Hall; Mrs. Dora Hayes, Milton (I.O.R.M., 1906). 

LOCAL. The members of Milton lodge of Ancient Order of United Workmen expect to worship at Nute chapel, next Sunday forenoon, September 20. Service at 10.45 o’clock. All brethren of the order will be cordially welcomed (Farmington News, September 18, 1908).

The Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W., appeared in the Milton directory of 1909, as a Milton Society.

ANCIENT ORDER OF UNITED WORKMEN. Strafford lodge of Milton, N.H., will have its officers publicly installed Wednesday evening by District Deputy Perkins of South Wolfboro. William J. Sullivan of the committee on laws will be the speaker (Boston Globe January 17, 1909).

MYSTIC ORDERS. Strafford lodge of Milton, N.H., will have a public installation Wednesday evening, District Deputy Perkins officiating. John J. A’Hearn, PMV, will be the speaker (Boston Globe, January 30, 1910).

The Woman’s Relief Corps, which was the women’s auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Civil War veterans’ organization, held a benefit supper at the A.O.U.W. Hall in December 1911.

Milton. The Woman’s Relief Corps will hold a baked bean supper, and sale of fancy articles, ice cream, candy and mysteries, in A.O.U.W. hall, Tuesday afternoon and evening, Dec. 12 (Farmington News, December 8, 1911).

The Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W., appeared in the Milton directory of 1912, as a Milton Society.

A 1914 thumbnail biography of Ralph M. Kimball (c1860-1922) of Milton identified him as having been treasurer of Milton’s A.O.U.W. for the past seventeen years, i.e., since circa 1896, and a member also of the local Knights of Pythias (Scales, 1914). His wife, Carrie E. (Willey) Kimball (1867-1949), won a cake basket at an 1891 A.O.U.W. event.

Local. A fine time was enjoyed at the Thanksgiving ball given under the auspices of Charity Temple No. 44, Pythian Sisters, at A.O.U.W. hall, Milton, Tuesday evening of last week. About 75 couples were in attendance. The grand march was led by Mr. and Mrs. E.A. Hodgdon, the next in order being Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Beaton. Music was furnished by the Peerless orchestra of Rochester. A fine supper was served and all in all a good time was enjoyed by everybody. About $64 was cleared, which fund is to be used for the benefit of the new shoe firm which is to locate in Milton. Ralph Whitehouse was the successful contestant in the silver service contest. The committee of arrangements consisted of Mrs. E.A. Hodgdon, Mrs. H.A. Beaton and Mrs. S.G. Blaisdell (Farmington News, December 4, 1914).

Local. Friendship Lodge, No. 72, Knights of Pythias, will hold its sixth annual masquerade ball Tuesday evening February 16, at A.O.U.W. hall in Milton. Charity Temple, Pythian sisters will serve the supper and the Dover Opera House orchestra will furnish music (Farmington News, February 12, 1915).


The Knights of Pythias held a masquerade ball in the A.O.U.W. Hall at Milton in January 1916.

Local. Don’t fail to attend the masquerade ball and concert in A.O.U.W. hall at Milton, under the auspices of Friendship lodge, K. of P., of that town, Friday evening, January 21; music by Dover Opera House orchestra (Farmington News, January 14, 1916).

John W. Avery (1869-1936) appeared in the Milton business directory of 1917, as recording secretary of the Strafford Lodge, A.O.U.W.

Insurance secretary Charles C. Fearing (1868-1951) of Boston, MA, visited Milton’s A.O.U.W. Hall in his capacity of A.O.U.W. Grand Recorder in December 1919.

Ancient Order of United Workmen. Charles C. Fearing, GR, will visit Strafford Lodge of Milton, N.H., Wednesday evening (Boston Globe, [Sunday,] December 14, 1919).

The A.O.U.W Building Association paid $87.50 in State, County, Town and School taxes on its A.O.U.W. Hall building, which was valued at $3,500, in the year ending January 31, 1924.

Grand Master Workman Thomas H. Canning visited a number of local A.O.U.W. lodges in September 1924, including Milton’s Strafford Lodge (Boston Globe, [Sunday,] September 7, 1924). (See Milton in the News – 1924).

The A.O.U.W Building Association paid $70.00 in State, County, Town and School taxes on its A.O.U.W. Hall building, which was valued at $3,500, in the year ending January 31, 1925.

LOCAL. Friends of W.E. Young, proprietor of the chain of Strand theaters in this locality, are congratulating him on his enterprise in purchasing the A.O.U.W. block in Milton. For some time past, Mr. Young has conducted movies in the hall of this building and will continue, while other parts of the building will be used for lodge and commercial purposes (Farmington News, December 11, 1925).

The A.O.U.W Building Association paid $88.20 in total taxes on its A.O.U.W. Hall building, which was valued at $3,500, in the year ending January 31, 1926.

The A.O.U.W. sold the A.O.U.W Hall to promoter Walter E. Young (1888-1956) of Farmington, NH, in December 1925, it had then a second life as the Silver Slipper dance hall and movie theater.

Walter E. Young paid $91.35 in total taxes on the former A.O.U.W. Hall building, which was valued at $3,500, in the year ending January 31, 1927.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. Strafford ss. Superior Court. February Term, 1926. Respectfully represents the Ancient Order of United Workmen Building Association, Incorporated, of Milton, in said county of Strafford, that on December eighth, 1890, Articles of Agreement therefor were subscribed by Henry R. Johnson, William T. Wallace, Fred B. Roberts, Elmer R. Durgin and Joseph H. Avery, all of said Milton; that said Articles of Agreement were recorded in the office of the clerk of said town of Milton, being the town in which its business was to be carried on, December eleventh 1890, and afterwards, on December thirteenth 1890, in the Office of the Secretary of State of said State of New Hampshire, and the said parties, their associates, successors and assigns did become a voluntary corporation under Chapter 152 of the General Laws of New Hampshire, under the aforesaid name and title; that on February 27th, 1891, said articles of incorporation were amended; and that said amendment and said articles of incorporation, as amended were recorded in the office of the clerk of said town of Milton, its place of business, on March 13th, 1891, and in the office of said Secretary of State on March 17th 1891.
That said corporation was organized for the following purposes: To lease, purchase, hold, sell, convey, mortgage and pledge its real or personal estate, to erect thereon buildings, and to rent and lease any or all portions of said buildings and any part or all lands purchased or leased by said corporation. That there was an authorized capital stock of $4,000, divided into four hundred shares of the par value of ten dollars; and that there are now issued and outstanding 204 shares of such stock.
That said corporation under its articles of original agreement and under such articles as amended, has continuously carried on its business at said Milton.
That said corporation did secure leases and rights to land, and that it did thereon erect and construct a large three story wooden block for commercial and other purposes, and that it has continuously carried on its business of renting and leasing such structure.
That at a special meeting of said corporation, duly called for such purpose, and held on November 28th, 1925, at 7.30 o’clock in the evening, and at which meeting there were represented 176 shares of the capital stock of the corporation, it was unanimously voted:
First: To sell its building and to authorize its president and treasurer to make due conveyance to the purchaser or purchasers.
Second: That the Ancient Order of United Workmen Building Association be dissolved; that the president and treasurer of said association take all necessary steps to carry this into effect; and that the assets of said association be divided among its stockholders on the basis of stock held. That said corporation in pursuance of said vote, did sell and convey its said building; and now that its assets consist wholly of cash on deposit in Banks and Trust Companies.
Said corporation especially avers, that it has no outstanding claims or indebtedness against it; that the business of said corporation should be concluded; that its assets should be paid to the stockholders on the basis of the shares of stock held, and that said corporation should be dissolved in accordance with the vote of dissolution aforesaid.
Wherefore it is Prayed: That said corporation may be dissolved, that its assets may be decreed to be paid to its stockholders on the basis of shares of stock held; and for such other decrees and relief as may be just, Ancient Order of United Workmen Building Association. By Ira W. Jones, President, and By Fred B. Roberts, Treasurer.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE Strafford, ss. Superior Court. February term, 1923. The foregoing petition having been filed in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court on the fifteenth day of February 1926, it is ordered, that said petitioners notify the creditors and all other persons interested therein to appear at a session of said Court to be holden at Dover, in said County of Strafford on the twenty second day of March 1926, and answer said petition by causing a true and attested copy of said Petition and this order thereon to be published in the Farmington News, a newspaper printed at Farmington, in said County of Strafford, it being the newspaper published nearest the location of said Ancient Order of United Workmen Building Association, three successive weeks, at intervals of not less than seven days, the last publication to be at least fourteen days prior to said twenty second day of March, 1926. February 15, 1926. William H. Roberts, Clerk.
The foregoing is a true copy of Petition for Dissolution of Corporation, and of the order of notice thereon. Attest: William H. Roberts, Clerk
(Farmington News, February 19, 1926).

Milton’s A.O.U.W. Hall was occupied next by Milton’s Silver Slipper Dance Hall – 1925-1948


Find a Grave. (2020, August 18). John W. Avery. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2010, October 6). John Wesley Churchill. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2016, December 5). Samuel Young Davis. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2011, June 24). Charles Cushing Fearing. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2012, October 27). Arthur C. Watson. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2016, October 16). George Edward Willey. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2014, November 24). Walter Eugene Young. Retrieved from

I.O.R.M. (1897). Record of the Great Council of the United States of the Improved Order of Red Men. Retrieved from

I.O.R.M. (1906). Record of the Great Council of the United States of the Improved Order of Red Men. Retrieved from

NH Secretary of State. (1908). Reports. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2021, September 21). Ancient Order of United Workmen. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2022, June 10). World’s Columbian Exhibition. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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