Skip to main content



The “Battle with the Slum” visits Exeter – 1908

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published in the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, May 25, 2018.

Late in 1907, Dr. Abner Merrill, a local businessman and philanthropist, began to plan an educational lecture series. He was inspired, it is said, by the venerable Lowell Institute of Boston, which had been endowed since 1838 through a bequest from the estate of John Lowell Jr. Lowell was the son of textile industrialist, Francis Cabot Lowell, and had inherited most of his fortune. His ‘institute’ promoted public lectures on a variety of topics – the first speaker was Edward Everett, who is now best remembered as the first speaker at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in 1863. Everett spoke for over two hours before yielding the stage to Abraham Lincoln, who then upstaged him in two minutes with the Gettysburg Address.

Merrill’s plans were more modest. He wanted to be sure his lecture series would be appreciated by local folks, so he ran a…

Latest Posts

Julia Ward Howe and the Seminary Bread Prize

Sullivan-Sleeper House: A 200 Year Resident of Exeter

The Dangers of Riding the Rails

A Time of Great Sorrow and Sore Affliction Among Us – Throat Distemper 1735

Patrick Conners – An Irishman’s Journey in America

Somewhere in France: (part 1)

Dr. Irene Morse

The Shipbuilding Legacy of an Exeter Neighborhood

Exeter’s Black Revolutionary War Veterans

1917 – The Year in Review