Friday, April 22, 2016

Singing School

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published by the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, April 22, 2016.

The Puritans who settled New England were not known for their singing talents. Music during a worship service was just a bit too close to entertainment, and so they had banned musical instruments and restricted music to a Capella singing. Psalms and other poetry from the Bible were considered prayer when sung, so the requirement was there – but apparently not the talent. With few psalm books available and no instrument to play the melody, hymns at church were sung using a system called lining-out. A clerk would read a line of the psalm and then the congregation would sing it in response, the tune differing from week to week and from church to church. Without guidance from a songbook or musical notation, the music was frequently garbled as it was easy to mix-up one tune with another.

In 1721, Reverend Cotton Mather of the Massachusetts Bay Colony preached (and later published) a sermon called, “The Accomplished Singer” encouraging the revival of ‘regular singing.’ Linda Ruggles, Lecturer of History at the University of Maryland, tells us that, “a number of ministers preached and wrote during the 1720s of the deplorable state of singing in the New England churches and strove to institute Regular Singing as the accepted style in worship.” But unsurprisingly, there was resistance from the congregation. Learning proper singing took effort and seemed like a frivolous endeavor. The pace of improvement was glacial. Still, Harvard was teaching its divinity students proper singing, and the practice and acceptance of singing schools slowly began to spread.

An early notice of a singing school in Exeter was placed in the Constitutionalist, a newspaper published in town in January of 1813. “William M. Butler would respectfully inform those from whom he has received encouragement and the young Ladies and Gentlemen in town and vicinity, that he should commence upon a second term on Tuesday Evening the 26th at the Centre School House. All those who subscribe to this school will be carried through the first principles of Musick, for the purpose of facilitating their future progress.” Mr. Butler’s singing school tuition was, “one dollar, to be paid at the end of the quarter; the Scholars furnishing the School with lights.”

Likewise, in 1818, Reverend Hosea Hildreth, an instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy, announced his singing school would open in February. “At the desire of several friends Mr. Hildreth will open a school on next Tuesday evening for instructing young Ladies and Gentlemen in Sacred Musick; provided twenty should previously apply for instruction.” Hildreth charged two dollars for his singing school.

Those who had presumably worked their way through a course in regular singing could join the Rockingham Sacred Musick Society, which met in Exeter or Portsmouth. Each year, at their annual meeting, the Society hosted an esteemed speaker – usually a local minister – to explain why choral singing, particularly good quality choral singing, was considered a form of prayer. North Hampton minister Jonathan French, in his 1816 address, made the case that music was always sacred, “we infer the fondness of the ancients for music from the wonderful effects they ascribe to it. It is said that by music diseases were cured, strong propensities controlled, seditions quelled, and passions raised and calmed.” But he was concerned that modern secular music was too profane for Sunday. “Does not performance of some, necessarily resemble the jargon of Babel, and the confused noise of the discordant assembly at Ephesus, some crying one thing, and some another?” Stick to sacred music, he encouraged, and not “modern fugueing tunes.”

Fuguing tunes were hardly gangsta rap. They were still hymns, but were set to four-part harmony. Both the Exeter singing masters taught this type of singing as evidenced by their use of the songbook, “Village Harmony.” This classic New England songbook was published in Exeter and went through multiple editions. Butler instructed his students, “It is earnestly recommended, that the scholars be furnished with the Eleventh Edition of the Village Harmony, a book containing a correct and pleasing variety of Psalmody.” Who wouldn’t want to learn from a book that advised: “Never sing through the nose, for that will spoil the voice, make the musick disagreeable, and have a disgusting effect upon the hearer.”

Whether singing schools improved the music in church was debatable. Elizabeth Dow Leonard remembered the music of her youth unkindly. “The volunteer choir troubles were often very amusing and always perpetual. The tune used to be started or ‘pitched,’ as it was termed, with a pitch-pipe, the leader and such of the choir as were supposed to be masters of music ‘beating time’ with the hand instead of a baton.” “The singers performed their parts with spirit and understanding also, making up what was deficient in science and harmony with unction and noise.” By mid-century, the co-educational nature of singing schools facilitated a shift from worship to courtship, and for this they were still a valuable occupation.

Image: New England singing schools used The Village Harmony as the songbook. This edition was published in Exeter by J.J. Williams in 1819, and was sold throughout the region.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Carriage Industry in Exeter

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published by the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, April 8, 2016.

A visitor to Exeter in the early 1800s would have quickly noticed that one of the busiest industries in town was carriage manufacturing. Today we’re used to a landscape peppered with businesses associated with our cars. There are gas stations, repair stations, glass repair, body shops, muffler and oil change shops, car dealerships and tire sales. It’s not uncommon for our car to be serviced at three or four different types of establishments. Although it may seem like the horse and buggy days were a simpler time, the carriage industry required similar numbers of diverse support services.

Before the nineteenth century few people owned their own carriage. People traveled by walking, riding horseback or paddling across water. Goods were moved from one place to another largely with two-wheeled carts, either pulled by people or a single horse. It was so uncommon for individuals to own a light carriage that most towns in New England documented the first person to have one. Indeed, Exeter is no exception as historian Charles Bell notes in History of the Town of Exeter, New Hampshire, “The first light carriage used in the town, according to tradition, was introduced by the Rev. Daniel Rogers, about the year 1754. It was of two wheels, and without a top, much like what in later times, was termed a gig. Before that time Mr. Rogers always rode to his meetings on horseback. A few years afterwards, Brigadier Peter Gilman brought into town the first fall-back chaise with a square top.”

The chaise (sometimes spelled and pronounced ‘shay’ as in the ‘one-horse shay’) was well suited to the rough roads of the early nineteenth century. The wheels were quite large, lifting the rider well above the mud and slush of the unpaved roadway, and two wheels allowed it to bump along fairly easily. The names chaise and gig are often used interchangeably, but the distinction is that a gig, as Bell mentioned, did not have a top. A chaise had a retractable cover called a calash, which could be pulled overhead in case of rain or to provide shade. These early vehicles were purchased primarily by the wealthier people in town or, as in the case of the Rev. Rogers, those whose livelihoods required a great deal of travel such as ministers or doctors. Carriages were made slowly by local craftsmen and could be quite expensive.

Still, there was demand for less expensive models and this, combined with improvements in roads, created a strong market for four-wheeled carriages. By mid-century, the industry took off in Exeter. Bell says, “Chaise, carriage and harness making became subsequently a very considerable business in Exeter, for a long period, extending from the latter part of the last century down to near the present time (1888).

Records at the Exeter Historical Society tell us that in the 1872 town directory, when the population of Exeter was about 3,440, there were 41 men connected with the carriage business, and this doesn’t include apprentices. The businesses associated with the industry are described as: carriage manufacturer, carriage maker, carriage works, wagon maker, carriage trimmer, harness maker and trimmer, carriage woodworker, machine and carriage blacksmith, carriage painter, sign and carriage painter, carriage and sleigh painter, carriage painter and builder and carriage dealer. Nancy Merrill, the curator until 2000, wasn’t able to locate any wheelwrights in 1872, but there had been wheelwrights in town in previous decades. Perhaps the carriage makers in 1872 were securing the wheels from another town.

This diversification of the industry into select parts may seem inefficient, but it actually brought down both the price and production time of carriages. The basic frame and assembly might be completed in one shop and the paint job – and the paint was important to protect the wood and add an esthetically pleasing look – in another. Iron parts were produced and repaired in the same blacksmith shop that shoed one’s horse. And speaking of the horse, this was an entirely separate industry. The family horse needed to be housed either in the barn at home or boarded at the local livery stable. It needed medical care, proper shoes and a harness suited to its personal needs. Just as we have to put gas in the car and make sure the oil is changed regularly, a horse needed feed, water and regular stall cleaning. You couldn’t just park it for the season and forget about it.

With all the carriage manufacturing that went on in town, it’s a bit odd that we don’t have any examples of Exeter carriages to look at. They’re probably out there, but carriage makers didn’t commonly sign their work and unlike other craftsmen, they didn’t leave detailed plans describing their designs. Most of the wagons and carriages made in Exeter were produced before the 1890s and were simply allowed to decay in the following decades. By the turn of the century, carriage making in Exeter was on the decline. Bell’s theory was that there weren’t enough young men willing to take up the craft. This might be true, or it could be that the rise of the mail order catalog - the Amazon of its day – cut into local production. A lightweight carriage could be ordered from Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward and it would arrive by rail. Either way, as we look back on the era from modern times we know that the carriage industry was doomed as soon as automobiles were invented. Who wants to muck out the horse stall when you can simply buy a few gallons of gas instead?

Fear not, however, the entire horse and buggy industry converted to the modern era. Livery stables and blacksmith shops became the mechanics garage. Gas stations popped up all over the place. As technology changes so does the commercial landscape. We no longer have video stores and travel agencies are waning, but smart phone repair shops are doing well. Soon we’ll all be lining up for self-driving car rental services and we’ll wonder why we ever bothered with car payments.

Photo: George Green poses in front of his carriage painting shop on Court Street in the mid 1870s. As both a blacksmith and painter, Green was part of the large carriage producing industry that once thrived in Exeter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Journey of the Giddings House

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published by the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, March 25, 2016.

Of all the houses that have been moved in Exeter, the one that has moved the farthest is the John Giddings house. Erected in the 1750s overlooking the Squamscott River, it now resides in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The story of its journey involves the visions of two industrialists and their nostalgia for New England village life.

Henry Ford was not from New England. Born and raised in Michigan by parents of immigrant stock, he early rejected his father’s hopes that he would take over the family farm. Drawn to the intoxicating world of machines and technology, Ford made his fortune manufacturing automobiles. His groundbreaking use of the moving assembly line allowed cars to be manufactured for the mass market. But even though he was credited with the creation of the modern industrial lifestyle, in his later years he was overcome with sentimentality for the pastoral life he had earlier renounced. He began collecting Americana in an effort to recreate a typical pre-industrial village as a kind of study center. His creation, Greenfield Village, became part of the larger Henry Ford Museum. Dedicated on October 21, 1929 – a week before the big stock market crash that marks the beginning of the Great Depression – the museum was dedicated to the work of Thomas Edison. A bit like Walt Disney’s fabricated “Main Street U.S.A.” Greenfield Village creates a dreamscape of American life on the cusp of modernity. The heroes of Ford’s imagined village are the sturdy independent thinkers – the farmers who accepted innovation, the craftsmen who perfected their ironwork and pottery and glassmaking. Unlike Disney, Ford wanted authenticity and sent agents throughout the country, mainly New England, to purchase examples for his village. Ford was quoted in a promotional article published in the Exeter News-Letter, “The farther one can look back, the farther he can look ahead.”

“An antique village, built around an old New England town common, will contain houses and shops of various periods since colonial days,” continued the article. “Handicraft trades will be perpetuated in them.” What better example of an ‘antique village’ could there be than Exeter, New Hampshire? Ford’s agents arrived as early as 1927 to rummage around for possible exhibits. The Lamson Pottery, which could trace its origins in Exeter back to 1771, sold much of its equipment to the museum. The Exeter Machine Works provided an old steam engine and the Exeter Gas Works sold them an old coal gas machine to demonstrate how the gas for old fashioned gaslights was manufactured.

The largest purchase Ford made in Exeter was locally called the old Batchelder house. Standing at the top of a hill on outer Water Street at the corner of Salem Street, the house didn’t look like much to most Exeter residents. Even the Exeter News-Letter editor John Templeton seemed a bit perplexed, noting: “The Batchelder house on Secretary Hill has been purchased by Henry Ford. It will be carefully taken down and the material shipped to Dearborn, Mich., for rebuilding in the Ford museum village. Exeter has much older houses and others of greater interest, but in this one there is much fine woodwork.” What most Exeter residents missed was that this particular house had more historic value than they assumed. Just the fact that it was located on ‘Secretary Hill’ should have been a clue about its importance. That particular hill is named for Joseph Pearson who served as New Hampshire’s Secretary of State from 1786 – 1804. The house came to him upon his marriage to Dorothy Giddings in 1795. Dorothy’s father, John Giddings built the house sometime in the 1750s and ran a small mercantile business from his wharf below on the Squamscott River. His account book, which reveals transactions primarily through barter, is in the collections of the Exeter Historical Society. Most of his goods were shipped through the West Indies, indirectly bringing textiles from Great Britain and, good lord, an amazing amount of sugar and rum. Had the teetotaling Henry Ford known how much rum came through the warehouse of John Giddings, he may have thought twice about the building as an example of stoic New England.

Nevertheless, in August of 1929 the entire house was carefully disassembled, numbered and shipped to Dearborn. There it was reassembled, although it wasn’t quite finished at the time of the museum’s big dedication in October. Various Exeter citizens have travelled out to the Ford Museum to visit the house and have reported back that it’s in good shape. You’ll find it in Greenfield Village’s “Parlors and Porches” district.

The empty place on Secretary Hill didn’t stay empty very long. Another nostalgic industrialist, Ambrose Swasey, was intent on creating a pastoral New England village. But Swasey was actually from Exeter and he was tired of the old dump on the west side of the Squamscott River. In 1929 he donated the funds to create the Exeter Shore Parkway, later renamed Swasey Parkway in his honor. To make room for this treasure, numerous buildings had to be torn down or moved. The elegant Furnald House was relocated to the top of Secretary Hill on the site of the old Giddings house. Today it looks like it has stood there forever.

Photo: The John Giddings house being carefully disassembled in August of 1929. The building was reassembled in Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Historic Dudley Gravesite

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published by the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, March 11, 2016.

You’ve probably passed it on the way out of town on Newfields Road – a marker that looks a bit like a gravestone with the words, “Historic Dudley Gravesite” deeply carved onto the surface. The name “Dudley,” like the name “Wheelwright,” is an important one in Exeter’s early history. But who was this historic Dudley?

The Reverend John Wheelwright is credited with leading a group of religious dissenters out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the relative wilderness of Exeter in 1638. Caught up in a controversy about the very nature of their faith, this small group of people had been excommunicated and exiled. But within five years of settling on the Squamscott, more people had arrived and they voted to become part of Massachusetts for protection. Wheelwright and his followers left by 1643, leaving the town slightly depleted in population and, more importantly, without a minister to act as leader.

For seven years, the town had no settled minister. The aptly named Hatevil Nutter agreed to be the town’s “exhorter” – not quite a minister, more like a spiritual advisor - providing the townsmen erected a fence around his land on the Lamprey River. He served his time until the fence was completed in 1650, at which point, Nutter and the town seemed satisfied that the agreement had been met. A new minister was recruited from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Who could be better than the Reverend Samuel Dudley – son of Massachusetts governor, Thomas Dudley?

Samuel Dudley was the man the town wanted. He had the education and pedigree everyone craved and he was in no way a theological liability. It took a fair amount of bargaining to lure Dudley to Exeter. Most towns found it difficult to pay their minister, and Dudley was taking no chances. He received land, firewood, a home (the one Wheelwright had left) and payment in the form of valuable lumber. During his time in town he was able to renegotiate his holdings and died a rich man. Surely his grave is worthy of a roadside marker labeled “historic.”

But Samuel Dudley is not buried on the edge of the Squamscott River where the marker directs us. He’s buried just off of Green Street. The marker on Newfields Road points to the grave of James Dudley, one of the Reverend Samuel’s 18 children. James was born in 1663, to Samuel’s third wife, Elizabeth. He was one of the younger children, born when his father was 55 years old. Little is known about James. He received a grant of land from the town, as most men did in the 1600s. He married Elizabeth Leavitt of Exeter, but died at the age of 57 “s.p.” – Latin for sine prole “without descendants.” Genealogists typically don’t spend a lot of time on the part of the family tree that didn’t branch forward. A note from Exeter genealogist Elizabeth Knowles Folsom lists him as a shipmaster and merchant, so perhaps he was at sea a great deal and that’s why he doesn’t show up in the town records as a selectman or town clerk or measurer of wood and bark.

The grave was mentioned in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register Vol. 16 in 1862. The Rev. Elias Nason described the stone as “resting on some rude masonery about two feet from the earth.” The inscription reads, “Here Lyes Buried the Body of Mr. James Dudley who departed this life Nover the 14th 1720 in the 57th year of his age. He was the son to the Rev Mr. Samuel Dudley, Minister of the gospel in Exeter and grandson to the Honourable Thomas Dudley, Esqr one of the first Governours of New England.” By the 1930s, when Walter Pennell was researching Exeter graves, the stone was in poor condition. His description: “the slab, about 31” x 67” is of red stone of a similar kind to that used for his father’s grave, and the shape is also somewhat similar. About the slab are some field stones which may have been used at one time to support it.” He also noted, “It has been said that at one time there were other graves here of the Lyford family. Rebecca, the sister of James Dudley, married Francis Lyford and she inherited from her father’s estate, the field in which the grave is located.” Today there is no trace of additional graves.

The land was eventually purchased by the Swasey family and came into the possession of Exeter industrialist Ambrose Swasey. Swasey left the land to his niece, Leona Henderson, in 1937. The Henderson family, with the advice and assistance of the Exeter Historical Society, made repairs to the gravesite in 1971, and erected the roadside marker seen today. Concerned that even these upgrades might be lost, they wrote up a document explaining how they’d gone about the work, encased it in a brass tube and had it buried beneath the concrete in front of the slab. Warren J. Henderson, Leona’s husband, noted in the document, “It is to be hoped that this gravesite will be allowed to remain unto eternity, but though possible, it might not be probable, and if ever dug up, this capsule under the slab should be intact and legible.” He signed the note, “Most Humbly, Warren J. Henderson.”

James Dudley was probably buried beneath his somewhat elaborate grave marker because of his lineage. It’s certainly telling that his birth date is not listed, but his parentage is. His wife, Elizabeth Leavitt, married twice after his death. It is unlikely that hers was one of the other graves on the Lyford property. With no direct descendants, it is unusual that the tiny cemetery survived the centuries. The Swaseys and the Hendersons proved to be the adopted family James Dudley needed to cherish his memory. Humble indeed.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day and Leap Year

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published by the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, February 26, 2016.

At Exeter’s Leap Year party in 1892, held at the Town Hall, “the brilliantly lighted hall was beautiful with elaborate decorations of flags, streamers and palms. At 8 o’clock Edney’s orchestra of Haverhill, 12 pieces, began a delightful concert of six numbers. Dancing immediately began, and continued until one, when an order of 20 numbers had been completed. In the intermission ices and light refreshments were served by caterer Hervey. The attendance was very large.” The Exeter News-Letter touted it as, “emphatically the social event of the year.” Leap Year parties were held again in 1896 and 1904, although scaled-down considerably.

February 29th – Leap Day – is terribly underrated. Calendars usually tick along in a logical way and then suddenly every four years we throw an extra day into the mix to keep us on the correct orbital date. Salaried workers who clock in on the 29th are working an extra day for free – a bit of enjoyable revenge for all the hourly employees out there who get cheated working the night shift when daylight saving time changes to standard time. But then, Leap Years are always crazy anyway, falling as they do during presidential elections and the Olympic Games. Leap Day itself is rarely celebrated, although by all rights it should be. If you search for Leap Day events on the internet a whole host of crafty art projects – usually involving frogs – turn up. Leap Day is unusually popular with public libraries and nature organizations. One can also find various elementary schools holding special celebrations, although New Hampshire’s quirky winter break schedule often makes Leap Day a vacation day.

Exeter’s most famous Leap Day occurred in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln stepped off the train at the depot on Front Street for a six day visit to New Hampshire. Lincoln’s son, Robert, was attending Phillips Exeter Academy to prepare for his Harvard entrance exams. Abraham Lincoln, who was not considered a potential candidate for the presidential election, came east to make a speech in New York. His speech at the Cooper Union Institute on February 27th, in which he addressed the problem of slavery and its potential spread to the western territories, was widely reprinted. Arriving in Exeter on the 29th, Lincoln met up with Robert and travelled throughout the state to Concord, Manchester and Dover before addressing Exeter’s citizens on March 3rd at the Town Hall. He stretched his time with Robert until March 5th, after which he continued to make speeches throughout New England. This eastern trip introduced him to the voting public propelling him to the nomination at the Republican convention in May. And he first placed his big foot on Exeter soil on Leap Day. For that reason alone we deserve a party.

And yet, Leap Day goes by each year without fanfare. A 2012 episode of Tina Fey’s TV sitcom, “30 Rock” created a world in which Leap Day was celebrated with the arrival of ‘Leap Day William’ a jovial character who tosses candy to children and penalizes anyone not wearing the official Leap Day colors of yellow and blue. Of course, no such fun actually exists in our world. The only Leap Day tradition to be found is a somewhat suspect practice of women proposing marriage to men – if he refuses, he must pay a penalty. Possibly an old Irish custom, in the United States it sounds a bit like Sadie Hawkins Day, which is celebrated on November 15th.

A Leap Day birthday can be both distinctive and troublesome. Statistically, the chances of being born on February 29th are about one in 1,461 (give or take the missing three leap days every 400 years). Checking Exeter’s birth records since 1887, when they were first recorded in the annual town report, there have only been 24 babies born on Leap Day. 1956, the height of the baby boom, holds the record with five births, although it was much more common for the date to have no births at all. Since 1960, there have been only four Leap babies; Cordelia Cayten is one of them. Now an adult living out-of-state, she had this to say about her birthday, “I remember that there was a news article written about me and a few other seacoast area leap year babies back when we were born, and one of the mothers said something like ‘I never believed in leap year babies but now that I have one I guess I do!’ And I thought, how on earth can you ‘not believe in’ people being born on a day that exists on our calendar?” Still, her birthday does give her immediate acceptance into the Honor Society of Leap Day Babies. Members refer to their age with a leap designation, such as “4 at 16” or “6 at 24” to indicate the number of leap and chronological birthdays. Problems such as when to celebrate one’s birthday on a non-leap year are discussed on their website. Most choose to go with February 28th. Called ‘strict Februarists’ they hold that leap births can only be in February. Can you get a free meal on your birthday in a non-leap year?

It only happens every four years, so make the most of February 29th. At Exeter’s 1896 party, held at Unity Hall on Elm Street, the News-Letter reported, “the hall was very prettily trimmed with yellow and white bunting.” Perhaps at least part of the 30 Rock color scheme can be considered ‘traditional.’ We all need a bit more yellow in our lives at this time of the year. Maybe try doing something a bit out of the ordinary on Leap Day. It’s no ordinary day, after all, even Cordelia admits to that. “All said though, I'd rather have my birthday be this weird unappreciated day than some lame normal day.”

Image: The famous Matthew Brady photo of Lincoln taken on the day he delivered his Cooper Union speech. This is what he looked like when he arrived two days later on Leap Day in Exeter.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Announcing the 10th Annual Nancy Carnegie Merrill History Award Contest

Nancy Carnegie Merrill
This year, the historical society is holding our annual essay contest and piloting a video contest, based on our popular and educational Exeter History Minutes. The topic for this year’s contest is “technology in Exeter's history” and students should choose a topic that relates to technological innovations that have been introduced in the Exeter area. Examine one form of technology that Exeter has experienced and answer the following questions: what was this form of technology; how did it change the lives of Exeter residents; was the change welcomed, or were they unsure of it? Students should not attempt to write the essay or create the video without receiving the requirements from their school’s faculty members or the staff of the Exeter Historical Society. (These can also be found at http://bit.ly/2016EHSEssayContest and http://bit.ly/2016EHSVideoContest.)

The deadline for both essay and video submission is Saturday, March 26, by noon. (The deadline for essay submission has been extended by a week.)

A panel of judges will choose the entries from each division (Middle School and High School) that best meet the criteria of outstanding achievement in format, historical accuracy, originality and style. The winners of the essay contest will each receive a $100 prize and the winning papers will be read by the authors at our annual Youth Night awards ceremony on Thursday, April 21 at 7pm. The prize for the video contest is to have the video entries posted and promoted through the historical society's social media channels; the winning videos also will be shown at the Youth Night awards ceremony. (Please note that there is no monetary prize for the video contest.) While the essay contest is limited to one entrant per essay, the video may have multiple entrants per video submission.

It is our hope that the Nancy Carnegie Merrill Award will foster an appreciation for our community and an interest in its past. The essay and video contests and Youth Night are generously sponsored by Service Credit Union.

For additional information, please contact Laura Martin, Program Manager. Materials can be downloaded here: 2016 Nancy Carnegie Merrill History Award Flyer and Materials (essay) and 2016 Nancy Carnegie Merrill History Award Flyer and Materials (video). The rubric that the judges will be using to evaluate the essay entries can be found here.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Give Yourself the Night Off, while Helping the Exeter Historical Society

Join us at Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 93 Portsmouth Avenue, Exeter, NH, all day on Tuesday, February 16. Margaritas will host a Noche Mexicana Fundraiser and donate 20% of pre-taxed food and beverage sales from participating families, friends and supporters to the Exeter Historical Society. Guests can choose items from any of their menus, takeout orders included.

We encourage everyone -- young and not-so-young -- to join us as we raise funds to support the historical society. We'd appreciate you sharing this invitation with friends, family and community members.

Please make sure to let the host or server know that you are there to support the fundraiser, so 20% of your pre-tax food and beverage purchases will be donated to the Exeter Historical Society. Call Ahead Seating (603) 772-2274.

If you have questions about this event, please contact the historical society at info@exeterhistory.org or at 603-778-2335.