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Barnstead, Chichester, Epsom, Gilmanton, Northwood, and Pittsfield NH

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Pittsfield NH News

October 14, 2015

The Suncook Valley Sun News Archive is Maintained by Modern Concepts. We are NOT affliated in any way with the Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper.



PHS Class of 1980,

35 Year Reunion!


October 17, 2015

6-11:00 PM

Laconia Country Club

607 Elm Street

Laconia, NH 03246

Appetizers, Dinner, Dancing and Cash Bar! Contact: Harriet Topouzoglou- Degou. Email: [email protected]. Phone: 781-273-2669.





The Pittsfield Area Senior Center would like to invite you to a free performance by the Dump Run Gang on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 10:30 AM. 


The Dump Run Gang is a group of musicians from Gilmanton who sing and play a number of instruments.  They perform songs like “Wabash Cannonball,” “Glory Train,” and “Temperance Reel.” Come, enjoy the free show, and have lunch with the group after! The senior center is located on 74 Main St., in Pittsfield and you can call 435-8482 for more information.





The Pittsfield Area Senior Center is teaming up with the Josiah Carpenter Library and hosting a presentation  given by the Historical Society at the senior center, located on 74 Main St. in Pittsfield, on October 22, 2015 at 1:00 PM.  Larry Berkson and William Provencal will be discussing the history and highlights of the “2016 Historical Pittsfield Calendar.”  You can call the center at 603-435-8482 or the library at 603-435-8406 for more information.



Fishing In Early Pittsfield

Submitted By Larry Berkson

Pittsfield Fish.jpg

Nearly every morning when I drive down Lyford Hill, I see people fishing from the dam abutment. It reminds me of my fishing days when I was a youngster and how things have changed. The Fish and Game Department now stock the river with trout. They can be eaten without fear of contamination. Growing up in the 1940s and 50s eating fish caught in the river was unheard of. The town’s sewers drained into it, and toilet paper, defecation, and other unmentionables could be seen floating down stream. 


The fish, with plenty of feed, multiplied quickly and grew to enormous sizes. I remember Eldon Duclos catching a horned pout along River Road that must have weighed four or five pounds. One day I caught a 34 inch pickerel off of Barnstead Bridge which Frank Volpe hung in his store window on Depot Street. 


There was great interest in fishing during my childhood. Most of us kids skipped school on the first day of the season to wet a line. And many adults were just as enthusiastic. When Allan Remington came to Pittsfield to run the Cotton Mill in the 1940s, he made an evaluation of its status for the owners. Absenteeism was a problem. One example he gave was that “for time immemorial,” it had been traditional for all fishermen to take at least the morning off the first day of the season. “Nothing, he stated, “could be allowed to interfere with that, not a World War crying need for production, [or] a worker’s pay.” Even supervisors expected to have time off on the first of May. “On the other hand,” he continued, “employees would work any holiday (excepting Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas) at regular rates of pay, if asked.” “Unbelievable as it sounds,” he concluded “there is very little exaggeration in the above.” 


Catches of game fish, however, were limited and the size of fish was relatively small. Streams such as the Tan Brook and Kelley’s Brook were stocked with trout, but nearly fished out each year so the fish never grew to a large size. I remember my first catch, a barely six inch speckled beauty in the Gas House Brook off the bridge at the foot of French Hill on South Main Street.


But in an earlier time in Pittsfield’s history, fish were much more plentiful and grew much larger, and abounded in the streams, river, and ponds. Further, the sport was enjoyed by many more people than today. In my reading I have come across numerous articles in newspapers about huge fish and large catches being taken in Pittsfield and I thought that it might be interesting to relate some of them. 



The first newspaper account of a large pickerel being caught was in 1869. Charles Evans and Walter Muncey caught one in Shaw Pond weighting over three pounds. Three years later the weight was topped by a man by the name of Wiggins who lived in the Dowboro area of South Pittsfield. He caught one five pounds and one ounce. Where it was taken is not reported but it must have been through the ice because it was caught in January. Perhaps it was in either Blake, Eaton or Berry Ponds as they were nearby.


In 1875 Nathaniel Marston, who was born in Pittsfield but living in Chichester, caught two pickerel in the Suncook River near Barnstead Road, one weighing three and a half pounds and the other two pounds. The newspaper editor thought that they were the largest he had ever seen.


Not only were large pickerel caught, but they were caught in large quantities as well. In 1880 Lew Marston, Mel Sherburne, and Frank Jacobs caught 80 pickerel in one day in Wild Goose Pond. A large number weighed three pounds each and the average was about two pounds.


In 1881 eight year old John Potter caught a pickerel in Shaw Pond weighing 1½ pounds. The following year, in February, A. J. Ranlet, Dr. M. F. Smith, and J. A. Dennett caught 65 pickerel in Jenness Pond. In May Moses Martin and True Brown caught a string of pickerel weighing over 41 pounds. One weighed 5½ pounds and another 3¾ pounds. In December Charles Sweatt and two others caught 128 “as nice pickerel as we ever seen (sic)” according to the editor of the Snow Flake.


In 1884 a party of fishermen from Concord caught over 300 pickerel in Wild Goose Pond. 


In 1885 three catches were reported. In June a young boy named John Brown caught a pickerel in the Suncook River weighing 3½ pounds. Pickerel were also caught in some of Pittsfield’s smaller ponds. Charles A. Jones caught one in Berry Pond weighing five pounds. In August, William Tucker, another eight year old boy, caught one weighing 1½ pounds in Clark’s Pond, now the town swimming pool. The following year Walter Munsey caught six in Clark’s Pond, one of which weighed three pounds, six ounces, one which weighed 2¼  pounds, and the other four one pound each. In September 1886 W. H. Blake caught a pickerel in the river weighing three pounds, two ounces. 


There were still very large pickerel being caught in the Suncook River in 1890. That March Matthew Nutter, Deacon of the Congregational Church, caught one that weighed 4¼ pounds. Numerous others were caught that spring weighing over three pounds. In 1896 Neils Bendickson caught one “just above the bridge” on the river weighing 5½ pounds.



In the early days steams abounded with speckled trout and were a favorite target of fishermen. One of the early accounts of large catches came during May of 1873. Attorney Thomas Thorndike and Postmaster Everett Jenkins caught a fine string and on the same day Albion French and  Charles Doe, a shoe factory worker, caught 60, and Salma Young, also a shoe factory worker, and Samuel Brock, 95. The following day Hiram A. Tuttle, a future N. H. governor, and Pastor Arthur Deering caught 50, some weighing a pound a piece. The location of their catches was not published and presumably a closely guarded secret. Later that month four men, C. V. Whitten, T. B. Jordan, H. A. Tuttle, and F. H. Yeaton, caught nearly 125 in a single day.


The following year, 1874, Mr. Thorndike caught 16 weighing from two to five pounds each. Given their size, they may, however, not been caught in Pittsfield unless it was in the river.


In May 1881 the editor of the Snow Flake reported that Frank Drew and Al Williams caught 75 of the “handsomest” trout he had seen that spring. Asked if they would tell where they were caught, the response was, no. The following month J. H. Clark, a popular Pittsfield violinist, went to Alton four times in one week and caught 409. 


In May 1885 J. H. Clarke caught 74 trout in a single day. The following year, May 1886, a Mr. Shannon and Dr. Frederick Cummings caught 114 in Gilmanton in a single day. A week later it was reported that Alonzo Hayward and Al Williams caught 93. The following month Lyman Muchmore caught 19 weighing in total 13 pounds.


In May of 1888 Walter Brown caught 68 trout in an unnamed local brook.  That same week Alonzo Williams and Almond Williams each brought home 38. Also that May Hiram A. Tuttle and two friends from Boston caught 89 “good ones.” The following month he and three men caught 183 “speckled beauties.”


Trout fishing continued to be good into the 20th Century. In 1904 it was reported that Frank Cutler caught a string of 19 which in total weighed 10 pounds. Asked where he caught them he responded, “Oh, over there,” leaving the questioner left to guess. 


In 1917 Cotton Mill worker O. S. Roby and Merchant-Photographer Henry Osgood caught from 12 to 15 pounds in an hour and a half in a small brook. A dozen of the largest weighted a total of 7½ pounds. The largest was 1¼ pounds.


As an aside it might be mentioned that in 1932 Herbert W. Dustin built trout ponds on Berry Pond Road and stocked them with 1,000 square tailed, six inch brook trout. They were designated for fly fishing and protected by a New Hampshire Breeders license and not to be caught for five years. 


In 1938 The Valley Times reported that Harry Lawton caught one of the finest strings of trout the newspaper editor had seen in years, 25 “speckled beauties” which completely filled a five-pound basket.


Perhaps the most stunning catch was in 1943 when Lucian Genest caught a six pound one ounce rainbow trout in the river. It was 27 inches long with a girth of 13½ inches, and the tail spread over seven inches. 


Horned Pouts

Night-time horned pout fishing was a favorite pass-time when I was a kid. They were plentiful in most of the ponds in town. I remember fishing in Blake’s pond on several occasions with Doug Whittier. There was a boat left in the brook outlet to the pond. It was not secured and we simply jumped in and fished in the little pool where it was located. After a while we would paddle out to a couple of stakes that were jammed into the pond’s bottom and tie up to them. We would catch 40-50 a night. They were great eating. I remember going there with Norman and Jack Leduc, and Larry and Johnny Sanderson one night. Jack and I were young and non-drinkers and caught a huge number of fish but the others likely drank more beer than they caught fish. Several of us boys also fished in Eaton Pond but the catches were not as large in quantity.


One of the early accounts of horned pout fishing took place at Shaw Pond in 1881. Henry Tuttle, Hiram’s brother, Frank Swett, and Edwin Nutter caught 490 fish there, “mostly pouts.” Six years later it was reported that Frank E. Ring, Johnnie Marston, and Ernest Sherburne caught 67 in one evening. 


Black Bass

The first newspaper report of a catch of black bass came in 1882. Sawmill owner William Hartwell, his two sons, and Cotton Mill Superintendent William C. Adams caught 18 of them in Jenness Pond in two hours. The largest weighed 3½ pounds. 


In February 1883 it was reported that a man caught a black bass fishing through the ice on Berry Pond weighing four pounds. In July Eugene Sweatt caught one in Jenness Pond weighing four pounds.


In 1885, Charles E. Perkins caught a black bass in Jenness Pond weighing 3½ pounds. It was 19 inches long and 13 inches in circumference. 


Large bass continued to be caught in the Suncook River in 1938. That year nine year old Bernard Adams, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Adams, caught one 2½ pounds “on a light rod” off of Barnstead Bridge. 


When I was a kid there was not a lot of bass fishing in Pittsfield. We did some in Odiorne Pond but that was in Epsom. A few people also ice fished in Berry Pond which was allowed at the time. I remember going there one time with Doug Whittier and catching a dozen very large bass in the range of 2-3 pounds.


Some people sleuthed around the edges of White’s Pond and tried to catch bass, generally without luck. When the Franciscan Fathers purchased the property in 1945 they obtained a “Breeders” License from the State and the public was not allowed to fish there without permission. It was a private pond at the time.


German Carp

In 1883 then farmer George R. Drake, later long-time secretary of the State Grange, purchased 50 German carp from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission. They had received them from the U. S. Fish Commission in Washington, D. C. Mr. Drake placed them into Horse Pond near Tucker Hill, behind the present Charles Watson House on Catamount Road. By law, they were not to be caught for five years. He had visions of developing the area for recreational use. Presumably some were caught later by local fishermen. 



At one time there were a large number of eels in the Suncook River. By 1881 they were few in number but in July it was reported that Frank Hartwell caught one three feet, three inches long that weighed four pounds 14 ounces.     Five years later, in October of 1886, Christopher Welch  and Willie I. Sargent caught one weighing 5¾ pounds. 



Spearing suckers during the spring run was also a favorite pass-time. This is what Elbridge and Porter True were doing when the huge snake came down the brook sometime in the late 1820s or early 1830s mentioned in my earlier story about snakes in Pittsfield. 


The only mention in the newspapers of spearing suckers was in May of 1887. The note simply stated that it was a favorite outdoor pleasure at the time. 



Nothing was written about catches of perch in the 19th Century, probably because they were so plentiful and not considered a game fish. They were probably taken by the thousands. One mention of a catch in the 20th Century was in 1910 when Lyman Munsey caught 74 in two hours ice fishing on the Suncook River. Amazingly he used only eight minnows as bait. 


Fishing Contests

Fishing contests probably existed from an early time. However, none were reported in the Nineteenth Century newspapers. Perhaps there were earlier ones but in 1941 Frank Volpe held a contest in conjunction with his store on Depot Street which featured fishing tackle and supplies. In August there was a report of catches up to that date. There were over 150 entries and 19 fish had been brought to the store for official weighing. The biggest fish in five classes were:


(1) Bass, Mrs. Robert H. Sanderson, 3 lbs, 10 ozs. 

(2) Pickerel, Lefty St. Laurent, 2 lbs., 5 ozs.

(3) White Perch, Sandy Shonyo, 2 lbs., 6 ozs.

(4) Horned Pout, L. G. Lamaire, 15 lbs., 1, 9/10 ozs.

(5) Square Tailed Trout, 1 lb., 1, 2/3 ozs. 


About 1992 an ice fishing contest was initiated for children by Pittsfield’s Parks and Recreation Department as part of Winterfest. Apparently it continued for a few years. There is no mention of it again in the town reports until 2004 when the contest was held on White’s Pond. It has been held several years since, often at the town pool, formerly Clark’s Pond.



Today catches such as related during the Nineteenth and early 20th Centuries are unheard of. As the 20th Century wore on the size of catches and fish became increasingly smaller. Limits were placed on game fish to protect them from extinction. Occasionally a large fish is caught but it is a rarity. 



Suncook Valley Area Lions Club Raffle Winners!

Submitted By Jean Williams


The members of the Suncook Valley Area Lions Club would like to thank the generous donors for our first Calendar Raffle.   Donors like you help our organization provide eye examinations and hearing screenings to someone in your local, (Barnstead and/or Pittsfield) community that may not be able to afford it.  We would also like to thank the wonderful people who supported us by purchasing tickets.


The following are the daily winners for the September raffle that was held:


Marilyn Dansereau-Barnstead, John/Emily Burnham, Concord, Chris Mooney, Woodbury, CT, Brooke Vien, Pittsfield, Gevin Gage, Pittsfield, Kathy Bergeron, Pittsfield, Diane Norton, Barnstead, Karen Yout, Pittsfield,  Kathy McHugh, Pittsfield,  John Maulfair, Pittsfield, Joe Darrah, Pittsfield, Shannon Nolin, Chichester, Bill Provencal, Pittsfield, Patrick Clymer, Barnstead, Rick Anthony, Pittsfield, Laura Okrent, Pittsfield, Joe Darrah, Pittsfield, Dot Vocino, Medford, MA, Ron Engleman, Pittsfield, Melody Williams, Pittsfield, Cara Marston, Pittsfield, Ruth Healey, Concord, Diane Baron, Tilton, Wendy Moon, Pittsfield, Madelyn LeMay, Chichester, Lynn Marston, Pittsfield, Laurie Chuteuneau, Northway Bank.


Extra Gift Basket- Susan Terry, Barnstead.


I would also like to give one more thanks, and that goes out to our hard working members who put in countless hours going from business to business getting donations.  Thank you so much for helping to make this a success!


The SVALC meets every third Monday, 6:00 P.M. in Pittsfield at Jitters.  All are welcome to come in and see what we are all about.  If you have any questions, please give our Vice President Ed a call at 435-5052.



Christmas In October?


That’s Right! On Sunday, October 18th, starting at 9:30, we will celebrate Christmas! All are welcome to attend. Our joyous event includes favorite carols, decorations, and foods.


This celebration was started many years ago as a way to support overseas missionaries with gifts in acknowledgement of their loving service. Why October? Because it often takes 3 months for the gifts to reach the farthest most places around the globe.


Come enjoy Christmas without the stress. Following our celebration there will be a light luncheon in the diningroom, with chicken pot pie, cranberry sauce, apple pie, pastries, bagels, and, of course, Christmas cookies.


This meal is FREE, but any who would like to donate is welcome to. All donations will go to missionary gifts. So, join us this Sunday at the Advent Christian Church, 68 Main St., Pittsfield NH at 9:30 am. Any questions, contact Pastor Jay at 435-8050.



Revs. Tim and Bethany Groves, along with their four children, Mackenzie, Mikayla, Megan, and Micah, travel full time advancing God’s Kingdom through praise & worship, anointed singing and sign language, and the preaching of the Word. Join them at the Lighthouse Church of God (29 Watson Street, Pittsfield), Fri. & Sat., Oct. 23 & 24 at 7 pm and Sun., Oct. 25 at 11am and 6 pm.




Kenneth M. Firman


Pittsfield – Kenneth M. Firman, 64, a resident of Pittsfield for the past 12 years, died Thursday, October 1, 2015 at the VAMC in White River Junction, VT.


Born in Bristol, PA on October 30, 1950, Kenneth was the son of Lewis and Alice (Rafferty) Firman. 


Ken retired as a Chief Master Sergeant after 27 years in the US Air Force during the Viet Nam War era. He served on many Air Force bases from Syracuse, NY; Minot, ND; New Boston Air Station; Ramstein, Germany; and Space Command at Colorado Springs. After his honorable discharge from the service, Mr. Firman continued his work in security, specializing in security control systems at System Planning Corporation in Arlington, VA.


Over the years he enjoyed scuba diving, snow skiing, and kayaking, but  trap shooting was his favorite. He was an ATA member and shot at many events around the NH /VT/ME area.


Members of his family include his wife of 45 years, Carol (Bilbrey) Firman of Pittsfield; 2 daughters and their husbands, Jennifer Ann Durant and Yvon of Lee and Wendy Marie Martin and Jake of MI; 5 grandchildren; Avel, Sophie, Megan, Maddison, and Brett, and his brother, David Firman of PA.


Tom Petit of the Still Oaks Funeral & Memorial Home in Epsom is assisting with arrangements and offers an on-line guestbook at








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