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Sunday, May 28, 2023

We Remember Their Sacrifice

 Journal Opinion May 24, 2023

Nineteen-year-old Nathaniel Westgate joined the 1st NH Calvary in 1863. He was taken and imprisoned in a Confederate prison where he died. He was one of 10,000 New Hampshire and Vermont men who died either of wounds or disease during the Civil War. 
King Dexter was one of 65 Topsham men that enlisted in WW II. He saw combat in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy before he was killed in action on July 16, 1944.  

David Hildreth of Warren was a member of Company D, 27th Engineering Battalion in South Vietnam. He died during a mortar attack on April 14, 1969. The local Baker River flood control dram was renamed in his honor. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC.

Memorial or Decoration Day was first recognized in the period after the Civil War so that “the memory of the brave deeds and nobles sacrifices of our deceased soldiers be kept fresh in the minds of the people.” It was observed annually on May 30 in some states. In 1971, the observance became a national holiday and moved to the last Monday of May.

This column recalls the courage and dedication of 12 local residents who served their country from the Civil War to Iraq. They are just a sample of those  who gave their lives while serving in the nation’s armed services.  

About 10,000 New Hampshire and Vermont soldiers died in the Civil War, both from action and disease. Several hundred were from the local area.  

Amos B. Chase, age 38, was mustered into Union service on Nov 20, 1863, and joined Co. H, 2nd Berdan’s Sharpshooters. Chase, a married man with four daughters and a carpenter, had lived in Newbury and Bradford.  Snipers or sharpshooters got their title using Christian Sharps’ long-range rifles. Their duty was very hazardous, and their effectiveness had a demoralizing impact on the enemy.

Chase was with Company H at the Battle of the Wilderness and the siege of Petersburg, VA, where they were on almost constant skirmishing and picket duty. On June 18, 1864, Chase was killed in action. While his name is on a headstone in Bradford’s Upper Plain Cemetery he is probably buried at the national cemetery near Petersburg.

Nathaniel W. Westgate joined the First NH Calvary in March1864. He was a 19-year-old from Haverhill.  His regiment saw action beginning in June. In early August1864, he was part of several successful cavalry raids targeting Southern railroads. On August 14, Westgate was taken prisoner near Winchester, VA.

 He spent the next five months in Confederate prisons under absolutely miserable conditions. The diary he kept chronicled his declining health. On Jan 7, 1865 he died at Danville Prison, VA. A comrade wrote of Westgate’s death, “thus another noble son of freedom has been lain a sacrifice upon the altar of his country.”  

In 1880, Haverhill-area veterans established the Nathaniel Westgate Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. The post was active in Decoration Day observances until at least 1912.    

All area men who volunteered during the Spanish-American War were in Co. G, 1st Vermont Regiment. They mustered into service on May 16, 1898. They never saw action during the few months of the war, but instead spent a horrible summer at Camp Thomas, Chickamauga Park, GA. They suffered from heat, poor water, typhoid fever, dysentery, disgusting food and lack of medical equipment. At times, 50% of the men were ill. Not one of the 27 members of the regiment who died from those conditions were from the local area.

When the regiment returned to Vermont in Sept 1898, they “were a skeleton of its former self.” Some of those who had contracted malaria or typhoid suffered from it for the remainder of their lives.

The United States was involved in World War I from 1917 to 1918. Over 36,000 men and women from New Hampshire and Vermont were in the military service.  That included over 650 local individuals, of which 35 died in service.  

Fred A. Cook of Post Mills graduated from West Point in 1906. By 1917, he had risen to the rank of major and assigned to the American Expeditionary Force in France. In Oct, 1918, he was part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive as commander of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry. 

He was said to be “an inspiration to his men, and they would follow him in the face of murderous fire.” On Oct. 8 he was killed while “directing an attack on a strongly entrenched machine gun.” He was awarded the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism posthumously. He is buried in the American Cemetery near the battlefield where he “fell face to the foe.”  

In 1920, the Earl Brock Post 78 American Legion was formed in Newbury to honor the only soldier from that town who died in World War I. One of the first functions of the Post was to give military honors as Brock was buried in the Newbury Center Town House Cemetery.

Brock grew up in South Newbury and was one of 58 men from Newbury who joined the service. He enlisted in the Army in April 1917 at age 19. He was assigned to Co. E, 55th Telegraph Battalion of the Signal Corps, and shipped to France with the American Expeditionary Force.

As with Major Cook, Private Brock was part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in Oct 1918. On the 28th, while constructing telephone wires under severe shell fire, he was struck by a shell. He died the following day.

His commanding officer wrote a letter to his parents, remarking on Brock’s “quiet and modest demeanor…efficient and effective in every duty he was called upon to perform.”  

Not all those who served were men or died from battle wounds. Bradford’s Josephine G. Barrett was a member of the Army Nursing Corps. The Corps required participants to be “unmarried, well-trained, respectable women, between the age of 25 and 35 and be a graduate of a nursing school.”  Barrett, 28 met those requirements.

 She was assigned to the U.S. Army Base at Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, S.C. She was the first Bradford woman known to have served in the nation’s armed forces.

In Oct 1918, the Spanish influenza epidemic hit the camp hard. Inundated with sick soldiers, military nurses were overworked and susceptible to the disease. Barret became ill, and on Oct. 13, she died.  She is buried in Bradford’s Upper Plain Cemetery.

Thousands of men and women from New Hampshire and Vermont were involved in World War II (1941-1945) and 295 died.

Charles R. Pierce of Orford was a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He grew up in Orford and described as “one of our most popular boys.”

 In Nov 1940, he volunteered for service, and after training was shipped to the Philippines, arriving before war broke out. In May 1942, after 120 days of intensive fighting, the Americans at Corregidor surrendered to Japanese forces. Approximately 9,000 Americans were taken prisoner and forced on what was known as the Bataan Death March. Pierce was among them.

The captives were imprisoned under appalling conditions and many died from abuse or disease. On August 3, 1942, Pierce and 14 comrades, died at the Cabanatuan Prison camp in the Philippines. They were buried in a common grave.

In 1950, the bodies of men from that grave were retrieved. The Pierce family travelled to the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Mo.to attend his burial in the local national cemetery. A headstone with his name is in Orford’s West Cemetery.

On Dec 30, 1942, 24-year-old Raymond S. Wood of Woodsville was killed fighting the Japanese at Guadalcanal in the Pacific. Lt. Wood had been stationed there with the 182nd Infantry Regiment as an intelligence officer.

The battle at Guadalcanal was the first major land offensive against the Japanese forces. Wood and his men were involved in the battle for Sea Horse on the island’s north coast. He was mortally wounded leading a combat patrol against the enemy. In a letter to his family, his commanding officer wrote, “after being hit, he survived for about five minutes during which the men in his patrol opened themselves to heavy enemy fire to render aid.”

In the announcement of his death, The Groton Times described him as “a boy of good disposition, honest, frank, enthusiastic to better himself, most devoted to his family and scores of friends.”

Wood’s remains were not recovered from the battle site until 2008. At that time, he was memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery.    

 Sixty-five men from Topsham enlisted in World War II. King F. Dexter was one of two killed. In Oct 1942, at age 20, he was inducted into the Army.  He saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Tunisia before being transferred to England to train for the invasion of France.  

In June, 1944 his company was part of the Normandy D-Day invasion. In July, his family received a letter from him saying that he had been taken prisoner by the Germans but escaped the next day to return to his company.  

On July 16, Dexter was killed in action. He left behind his wife Norma and a son he never saw. In March 1949, his body was shipped by rail back to Bradford and met by a local American Legion post honor guard. He is buried in the East Corinth cemetery. 

In 1950, the United States was supporting South Korea in its fight against North Korean and Chinese troops. Before this conflict ended in 1953, over 190 service members from New Hampshire and Vermont lost their lives.

Lyme resident and Thetford Academy graduate Guy O. Chesley was among the first to give his life. At 19, he was an infantryman in Company L, 9th Infantry Regiment.

 In February 1951, his company was engaged in bitter fighting against Chinese forces at Chaum-Ni. In an attempt to control supply lines, the Americans were taking heavy casualties.

 On the morning of Feb 14, 68 Company L soldiers were found murdered in their sleep. That is the recorded day of Private Chesley’s death, but I could not determine if he was one of the 68 or if he died during the fighting.

Chesley’s body was shipped back to the States in August 1951 and after a memorial service, he was buried in the Lyme’s Highland Cemetery.

In the Spring of 1953, A similar memorial service for another member of the 9th Infantry was held in Orford.  Being memorialized was Cp1 Clayton Huckins, a 20-year-old who had joined the Infantry in July, 1950. 

His sister, Helen Huckins Marsh of Fairlee, recently spoke of her brother as “the go-to guy for things out of doors.” As a youngster he fished along Orford’s Jacobs Brook, “always investigating.” He was known as the type of “buddy who watch others’ backs.”  

On March 12, 1953, Huckins was constructing tactical wire around the company’s position near  a mountain known as “Little Gibraltar” north of the Imjin River. There had been heavy fighting against Chinese troops. He was recently awarded the Bronze Star for historic achievement and was scheduled to come home for his 20th birthday.

He received what was a mortal injury, but continued his hazardous work until unable to do so no longer.  His body returned by train to Fairlee and a memorial service was held in the Orfordville church on the banks of the Jacobs. He is buried in the Orford’s West Cemetery.

With improvements in medical care, the number of soldiers who survived even major wounds increased. However, during the Vietnam war, 197 New Hampshire and Vermont service personnel lost their lives.

On April 14, 1969, David W. Hildreth, a 19-year-old soldier from Warren, NH, died at Quang Tri Province. Hildreth had enlisted in the Army in February, 1968.

He succumbed to injuries from a mortar attack on the base camp of Company D, 27th Engineering Battalion. He never got to see his daughter born eight days following his death.

In a recent letter Hildreth’s cousin Gloria Bumford of Warren, wrote, “he was a typical country boy…who made the decision in later life to serve his country.”  

A memorial service was held in Warren, and he was buried in Glencliff’s High Street Cemetery. A 15-man contingent from Fort Devens conducted the full military rites.

On July 4, 1970, by Legislative decree, the local Baker River flood control dam was renamed the David Wayne Hildreth Dam.

Specialist Alan J. Burgess joined the Woodsville unit of the NH National Guard in 2002. He had grown up in Lisbon, Bradford and Landaff and graduated from Oxbow and River Bend. It was said that he was one who could easily bring a smile to others.

 His unit was deployed to Iraq as part of the 197th Field Artillery Brigade. On Oct 12, 2004. while on patrol as a vehicle gunner in Mosul, Iraq, he was killed by a car bomb. He was one of 65 from the two states who died in the post 9/11 wars.

In an Associated Press release at the time, his mother Karen Moore of Bradford, said “He had a love for his family and for his country. His needs were always last, everybody else came first…they were all there because they had to go.” 

He was buried in the Landaff Central Cemetery on Oct 25. 2004. In 2010, by Legislative action, the Salmon Hole Bridge on Rt 302 in Lisbon was renamed the Specialist Alan J. Burgess Memorial Bridge.

Burgess joined the hundreds of local residents who gave their lives in the military service. On Memorial Day, pause as you drive by a local cemetery. Notice the flags placed on the graves of fallen service members and remember their sacrifice.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Drugs For A Cure

A RECORD LEGACY DRUG STORE; From 1872 until 1974, the Mann family operated a drug store in the center of Woodsville. At left is the original site of the E.B. Mann & Co.  At right, the Opera Block housed the drug store after 1890. At the time it was sold it was said to be the oldest drug store business in the nation to be "continuously owned and operated by the same family."

SERVING A WIDER MARKET: Fairlee pharmacist Will Chapman (1866-1947) began as an Abbot's Drug Store apprentice in 1907. After taking ownership of the store in 1925, "he was favorably known by a large clientele."  He also held a number of town offices. Known for his athletic preparations, he supplied liniments and ointments for the Byrd Antarctic expedition in 1939. 

PATIENT MEDICINE EXAMPLE: This patent cough syrup suppression came to the market in 1874. As with other patient medicines, it contain toxic ingrediencies.

 Journal Opinion April 26, 2023

Bradford Drugs: "H. B. Poole takes great pleasure in announcing that he is opening a New Drug Store at the Union Building in this Village. He has a full selection of Medicines of every kind.” Orange County Journal, Sept 22, 1855

For over two centuries, area druggist and pharmacists  have sold remedies and medicines to both physicians and the general public. Some were stand-alone businesses, and others were part of general stores.  

This column covers the local history of available medicines and cures as they transition from home remedies and patent medicines to modern drugs offered by registered pharmacies. Local histories and vintage newspapers are the sources of information. 

Early physicians had few effective weapons against disease, especially in the face of epidemics. Standard treatments, such as bloodletting and blistering, often resulted in a high death rate.

Herbs were often used to combat the symptoms of diseases. Native Americans introduced both physicians and the general public to plant-based medicines. Those included hemp, red willow and white ash bark, and various roots.

Many residents relied on home remedies, some of which may have actually had curative properties. Vinegar and honey were recognized as helpful both as cures and for maintaining good health.  Garlic clove were used for insect bites and spruce gum for toothaches. Bread poultices were used to draw out infections.

On the other hand, some home remedies did little good or worse. A dirty sock or salt pork wrapped around the neck did not cure a sore throat. Neither Skunk oil to relieve congestion, or skunk cabbage root for asthma brought much relief.  

Apothecaries were chemists who produced and distributed medicines. Their shops served both professionals and the general public. Many physicians also prepared their own drugs.  

The profession started to take shape when colleges of pharmacy were established in  Philadelphia, Boston, and New York in the 1820s, but some locals still gained their knowledge as apprentices.  For a time, those who were trained used the title pharmacists, whereas those without formal training were known as druggists. There were no legal qualifications for either of these practices.  

 In 1852, a national organization of pharmacists was established in Philadelphia. In 1873, pharmaceutical associations were established in both New Hampshire and Vermont.  However, it was not until 1894 that Vermont established a state licensing board for both pharmacies and pharmacists. The following year licenses were granted to 325 applicants.  

During this time, the ill often turned to patent medicines for relief. These proprietary preparations, often with exaggerated claims, were trademarked but not patented by the government.

 Throughout the 19th century, there was an unregulated market for patent medicines. Easily accessible and inexpensive, they were sold as “healing elixirs, nostrums, salves, liniments, and tonics,” and guaranteeing cures for a wide range of illnesses. Some patent medicines actually provided the promised relief, whereas others did not. 

These products were numerous and widely available and they used extensive advertisements in newspapers, and almanacs, featuring first-hand testimonials as to their effectiveness,

Many patent medicines contained alcohol and drugs such as opium as active ingredients and could do more harm than good. For example, Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, used to treat colic in babies, contained morphine. It was advertised in Orange County from the 1850s to 1898.

Many popular soft drinks, including Pepsi and Coca-Cola, were initially marketed as patent drugs.  

Local druggists and doctors marketed their own versions of patent medicines too. F. H. Keyes of Newbury developed a broad market for Dr. Carter’s Pulmonary Balsam. It was developed by Dr. W. H. Carter of West Newbury, who practiced there from 1827 to 1853. The product was later sold to the Keyes, who peddled it locally and wholesale to a national market.  

In 1849, Carter wrote to a Boston Medical Journal that he “never designed it to be a secret remedy or nostrum; but it had been passed off as such.” As late as 1873, the Keyes were still placing ads warning about counterfeits of their camphor-laced product.    

Between 1866 and 1877, Bradford’s C. C. Doty was a manufacturer and dealer in Doty’s Mandrake Bitters. His advertisements promised “warranted cures” for a wide variety of ailments including piles, liver complaints, and “fluttering of the heart.”  It assured relief for “depression of spirits and constant imagining of evil.”

The unsavorness of patent medicines eventually invited scrutiny. The Progressive movement brought about the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 with federal interstate regulation to “prevent the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious food, drugs, medications and liquors…” New regulations demanded listed ingrediencies, fewer false claims and truthful advertising.

Although the law helped curb medical claims, the impact was not immediate.  Mrs. Winslow’s morphine-laced soothing syrup remained on the market until 1930, even though it was potentially lethal to infants.

Lee’s Save the Baby cough suppression came to market in 1874.  Despite containing toxic camphor, it was marketed for both external and internal use.  In the 1940s, it was a standard remedy in my mom’s medicine cabinet. She would warm the bottle and rub a bit on my congested chest, followed by a spoonful administered internally. It tasted terrible but seemed to help.

Almost every local community, at one time or another, had physicians or druggists who manufactured, distributed, and/or sold medicines. Following are four legacy pharmacies that were mainstays in the commercial centers of the area for decades.  

Woodsville’s E. B. Mann & Co. was that community’s premier drug store from 1872 until its sale in 1974. After 1890, it was located in the Opera Block.  At the time of its sale, it was described as “the oldest drugstore business in the country continually owned and operated by the same family.”.

As with other area drugstores, Mann’s sold more than drugs. After 1895, there was a soda fountain. Blaisdell’s history of Haverhill describes the store’s other offerings in the early 20th century, “they sold soaps, sugar, ketchup, razors and strops, paints and wallpapers, and, except during Prohibition, a full line of spiritous beverages.”

The store also offered a selection of patent medicines, including several of Mann’s own making. Those include Mann’s Bitters and Mann’s Little Liver Pills.

The family sold the store in 1974 to partner Harold Wheeler who had worked for them since 1963. In 1985, it relocated to Butson’s supermarket and renamed the Woodsville Pharmacy.

In Newbury, there were a number of stores that sold drugs in the 19th century.  F. & H. Keyes of Newbury Village advertised a selection of patent drugs in 1851.  

In Wells River, Thomas Barstow’ general store sold medicines as early as 1814. In 1878, W. H. Eaton opened a drugstore on the village’s Main Street. It went through a series of owners and locations.

Around 1900, W. H. Buck was the druggist in Wells River. He is credited with developing the formula for what became known as “Bag Balm.” The Buck family continued to operate a pharmacy until 1924, when it was sold to W.A. Knight. Fourteen years later, in 1939, Knight’s Pharmacy was sold to James G. Thomas.

Thomas Pharmacy “became a fixture on Main Street.” In 1974, the pharmacy was sold to nephew Robert Brock and Duane Hobbs. The lunch counter was known as the “hub of the community.”

In 2002, the pharmacy was sold again and became known as the Wells River Pharmacy and continued to operate until 2017.        

In Fairlee, L. H. Granger operated a general store on Main Street as early as 1807. For a time, it was operated by H.F. Bickford.  In 1891, Dr. Chase from Orford opened it as a drug store with F. W (Fred) Abbot operating it. Abbott promised that the  store’s White Pine Cough Syrup would “positively cure your cough.” In the early 1900s, Abbott’s advertisements included testimonials offered as news items for various patent medicines, with satisfaction guaranteed.

The history of Fairlee mentions that Abbott’s penny candy counter included Zanzivars, cinnamon imperials, Ju-Jus, and licorice. Its soda fountain offered ice cream treats. 

In 1925, William Chapman, who had studied with Dr. Francis Gerald of Warren and been an apprentice for Abbott, took over the store.  In 1939, Chapman supplied Chapman’s Liniment and Chapman’s Ointment for Boils for the men of the Byrd Antarctic expedition. Newspaper reports mentioned that he was known nationally for his athletic medicinal preparations.

 Chapman’s son Leland assumed ownership in 1947 and ran the store until his death in 1988.  Growing up, Lee Chapman was my family’s pharmacist, as he was for most of those who lived in Orford and Fairlee. I can still picture him behind the drug counter in his white coat. In a newspaper interview, Lee’s son Will said, “My father ran the store; prescriptions were 90% of the business.” Unable to find a new pharmacist, the store discontinued the pharmacy portion of the establishment.

In Bradford, Main Street served as the location of a series of stores that sold drugs. George Prichard and Son’s  store opened in the 1840s.  In 1854, H. B. Poole offered his services as a druggist. About  1856, Dr. A. A. Doty opened an apothecary shop. 

H. G. Day’s Bradford Drug Store was opened in 1867, offering drugs, toiletries, patent medicines, and druggist’s groceries. Between 1888 and 1903, the store was owned by A. T. Clarke. Cunningham’s Pharmacy was opened at about the same time. Sisco Pharmacy operated in the Stevens Block from beginning around 1913 and introduced the Rexall brand. In 1925, Sisco sold the business to brothers William and Frank Gove.

In 1935, Kenneth Murdock and George Bancroft purchased the pharmacy. William Gove continued as a pharmacist and the pharmacy was renamed Gove and Bancroft.  William Gove’s nephew, Fletcher Gove, began his career at Thomas Pharmacy in Wells River before becoming a partner pharmacist in the Bradford store in 1959. 

Gove’s son Graham recently recalled his “dad’s patience and good-naturedness toward customers no matter their social or economic status.” He remembered that his father delivered prescriptions after hours to people who were unable to get to the store.

As with other pharmacies, Gove and Bancroft carried far more than prescription drugs. It was the place to go to have photographs sent for developing or to purchase reserved tickets for Bradford Academy’s senior plays. They carried a full selection of gifts and toys. Their “Rexall 1 cent” sales attracted many to what was advertised as “Your Family Drug Store.” 

In 1968, pharmacist Howard Search Jr. joined the pharmacy. In a recent telephone conversation, Search indicated he purchase the business in 1980 when Fletcher Gove retired. In about 1989, the pharmacy moved east across the street to occupy a newly-built store and remained there until it closed in 1992.

Search went on to explain that the practice of pharmacy had evolved dramatically during his career. When he began in 1962, there were lots drug compounding locally.  which he described as a mixture “between the art and science of pharmacy.” By the close of his work, work had become somewhat easier as it was more likely to be dispensing of pre-made pills and other pre-packaged prescriptions.

In about 1984, pharmacist Linda Michelsen opened Crossroads Pharmacy on the Lower Plain. At first, it was in a small location at the four corners and, in 1968, it moved to the former Green Frog store, now the location of East Coast Van. In 1999, New York-based Kinney Drug took over from Crossroad Pharmacy and occupied a new building on the Four Corners.             

In the past two decades, new local pharmacies have opened and others have relocated to new sites. In Woodsville and Haverhill, there are now instore pharmacies at Walmart and Shaw’s. There is also a   Rite Aid pharmacy, part of a national chain of pharmacies.  Bradford’s Hannaford’s has an in-store pharmacy on the Lower Plain.   

Many locals now have their prescriptions filled through mail-order pharmacies or online pharmacies such as Express Script, Optum RX, and Caremark. While the customers of mail orders pharmacies may get to interface with a distant pharmacist they lack the close personal contact they may have received from local and well-established community pharmacists.

Built over decades of operation, familiarity with the primary pharmacists at the four pharmacies mentioned above gave customers confidence in their work. Locals took their advice with the belief that the prescriptions they prepared would provide a path to improved health.