First Baptist Church of Hudson Bicentennial Celebration
Compiled by Ruth M. Parker from notes and information researched by Dr. H. 0. Smith and Ruth E. Parker
NOTE: The First Baptist Church of Hudson is currently celebrating 200 Years, of Worship. Here is a look at some early church history. The public is invited to share this celebration with us. See the related article for details.
On May 1, 1805, a group of sixty-five people petitioned to be "sett off” from the Baptist Church of Londonderry, New Hampshire in order to form a "distinct church". As was the custom at that time, the matter was referred to an ecclesiastical council called for the purpose of "gathering" a church.
Delegates to this council included brethren from neighboring Baptist churches. The council met at the home of Deacon Thomas Senter in that part of Londonderry, which was annexed to Nottingham West (now Hudson) in 1778. Deacon Senter's home was located on what is now the Old Derry Road in Hudson, a short distance north of the Senter Burying Ground.
The council voted in the affirmative and "The Church of Christ in Nottingham West" was organized. At the same time, the council voted to ordain Elder Thomas Paul, a black American, as an Evangelist.
According to Webster's History of Hudson the "germ" of Baptist belief had been increasing in this area. This group had been a branch of the Londonderry Church for some time, and the original 65 members held membership in that church. The reason for the formation of a new church was not a difference of opinion, or of doctrine, or of theology, but a mere matter of geographical convenience. These first members were scattered over a 15-mile area. While this distance means little to us today with our modem transportation facilities, the distance was a significant factor in those early days, especially considering travel was by horseback, wagon, or by foot.
There was no settled pastor for several years. Reverend Thomas Paul, who had just been ordained, was the first preacher. About him, little is recorded, except that he was a faithful preacher and successful in his work.
A generation after the church was organized agitation began for the building of a new structure. The first record of any such movement was at the annual meeting of the church and society in 1837. It was voted that a committee composed of Thomas Marsh, Isaac Colburn, G. P .F. Cross, and Stephen D. Greeley should work toward this goal. The new building to be located in one of the following places:
No further action was taken for over two years. Then, in March 1839, it was voted to build a new house followed at once by a vote to dismiss the article. This action shows the lack of unanimity as to the wisdom of taking any steps toward a new building.
Another two years elapsed before further action was taken. On March 1, 1841 it was voted that the building committee (whose names are not known) should make a contract with the Society with respect to a new meetinghouse. No further mention of the new building appears in the records.
A deed to the building lot dated October 19, 1841, was obtained from Reuben Greeley, the building, which stood on the lot, was moved. The building was called Marshall's store and it was moved to the site of Dr. H. O. Smith's house. Dr. Smith had in his personal records a copy of the bill for moving this house. It is dated April 30, 1841, rendered to the Baptist Society by Holt Nichols for moving the structure known as Marshall Store. The amount for the move was $40.60. This document was donated to the Historical Society by the Smith Estate and is amongst the artifacts at the Hills House.
Dr. H. 0. Smith searched the files of the Nashua local paper through 1841 but found no mention anywhere of the names of the building committee, of the cost of the structure, or of any dedicatory exercises. The next we know, on March 1, 1842, the Society deeded the North Meeting House to the Town of Hudson for use as a town hall. This is evidence that the new church must have been completed before that date.
Of the two pictures, the first is the earliest known picture of the First Baptist Church. It was taken from the comer of the Center Cemetery near Hamblett Avenue. This photo was reproduced from the archives at the Hudson Historical Society. The second photo was taken by the author and shows the church and sign during the winter of 2005.
Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?
"Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say!" And so they did! During Read Across America week, the second grade students in Mrs. Deneault's class, Nottingham West, were greeted at the door with the dee-liciously, yum-itiously aroma of Green Eggs and Ham, cheerfully being cooked and distributed by Thing One! "And Sam-I-Am you are right! They enjoyed each and every bite!" Next, they submerged themselves in a Spontaneous Reader's Theater production of Green Eggs and Ham. And if that wasn't enough, Bartholomew Cubbins from Dr. Seuss, disclosed the famous recipe. Each student, sporting Dr. Seuss hats and pendants, got to experiment with the "scientific matter" that is both a solid and a liquid. They delighted in its consistency as could be detected through their squeals of laughter. While some were submerged (literally) in this center activity, other students were busily calculating Dr. Seuss word problems, doing bubble maps, drawing and writing about their favorite Dr. Seuss book/scene, reading together, singing, and trying rather unsuccessfully to get the green off of their hands and faces. They also enjoyed eating a Dr. Seuss birthday cake, compliments of a local store. The day ended with a reading of the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax won by three of the students for participating in the Mathematical Seussical "Guess the number of goldfish" contest. The Lorax was the perfect book for introducing a future unit of study on Rainforests! Perhaps this lesson won't stain their hands!
Are Hudson Seniors Losing Their (Collective) Voice?
by Karen High
What is going on with the Hudson Seniors Club? Why are senior citizens in town still being shuffled from the Lions Club Building (now known as the Hudson Community Center Building) down the road to the Recreation Hall?
The Rec Hall, next door to the H. O. Smith School, is smaller than the Lions Hall; there is “no room” for much of anything, according to one Senior member. “There’s no kitchen, no stove; there’s no room for our aerobics, line dancing, or even the foot clinics.”
Ask any Senior in town and he/she will tell you the problem of their displacement is ongoing. There is still no place to call home. “No Senior hall…to call our own,” according to Hudson’s Laura Bedard, in a previously-published letter to this newspaper. Bedard has noted that “this town has not looked around to see all neighboring towns have their own facilities that can be used on a daily basis.”
Enter Lucille Boucher, one Senior Board of Directors member - who has “worked her butt off,” according to resident Jeannette Blake - running the Hudson Center, planning functions and trips, organizing programs and other activities. Boucher has personally visited over two dozen Senior Centers in neighboring Massachusetts, as well as New Hampshire towns.
At least twenty of these communities “are supported by their towns or cities,” according to Boucher’s research.
In New Hampshire, this list includes Dover, Londonderry, and Manchester, the latter housed in a “brand new building” on the West Side; Merrimack (also visited by this reporter) and Newmarket (“They have two Centers,” notes Boucher); Pelham, Plymouth, Raymond, Rochester, Salem, Seabrook, and Windham. Massachusetts cities which Boucher has investigated, and which are known to have funds allocated for Senior Centers are Chelmsford, Dracut, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Salisbury, Townsend, and Hudson’s bordering town of Tyngsboro.
So, why doesn’t Hudson have the town-funding available for a Senior Center all its own? A center which is open five days a week, like Merrimack - only 6 1/2 miles away, for example - does? A place with “sofas and chairs and newspapers to read?”
Before venturing an answer, a visit to the John O’Leary Adult Center - the official name of the Merrimack seniors’ facility - is in order. Jeannette Blake, an avid center-supporter and an advocate of “keeping busy,” frequents both the Hudson and the Merrimack locations. Blake says that it is in Merrimack “where people can sit down and read the newspaper.” It is the town of Merrimack, she reports, which “pays for [their] bus trips.”
Available to Merrimack residents first, the trips are open to seniors (like Blake) from other towns as well, “as long as there is a seat.”
At the John O’Leary in Merrimack, Saint Joseph Community Services, Inc. (SJCS) offers lunch in the senior dining center five days per week. SJCS serves lunch at Hudson’s Senior Center on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the only two days the center is open.
On a Monday afternoon visit to the John O’Leary Center, about 75 people have already been served a meal of meatloaf-with-gravy, mashed potatoes, winter squash, animal crackers and pears, all from a large, fully-applianced kitchen. It is after 1:30 p.m. and many people are relaxing on couches, colorfully upholstered. There are three or four overstuffed, matching chairs. The pieces are pleasantly arranged, looking comfortable and inviting. The dance-floor in the back half of the hall is unused at the moment, surrounded by tables of folks getting ready to play Bingo. An upright piano graces the far corner, waiting to be played.
The ambiance of the center is Spring-like, bright, cheerful, and energetic as the people here. Everyone is friendly. Hellos are exchanged with smiles and handshakes. Dues costs $15 a year - Hudson’s dues are about half this amount - and one member remarks, “you get it back in 15 million ways.” Once you become a member here - you must be a resident of Merrimack to join - you remain a member for life. Even if you move away, “you can still come back,” says Lewis, today’s Bingo caller.
Zonia Lefabvre is in charge of trip-planning for the Merrimack Seniors. She also knows the history of how the center evolved. Seniors have been gathering like this for “over 25 years,” Lefabvre claims. They used to meet “in the basement at Our Lady of Mercy.” The existing location - “We’ve been here 15 years,” she says - became available through funding from the town, through dues and of course, rent. The “trustees” oversee these details, says Lefabvre, who praises St. Joseph’s “soup kitchen” for their part in serving the daily lunches.
Hudsonite, Jeannette Blake, continues to extol the virtues of the Merrimack Center, showing a visitor an ultra-modern “elevator” for wheel-chairs, and a newly-installed ramp, both additions making the hall “very accessible” to all.
“They bend over for their seniors,” says Blake, in obvious reference to the town of Merrimack and its representatives.
Blake reads from a posted summary of Activities Planned. Monday: Line Dancing. First Monday of the month, Blood Pressure check. Tuesday: Exercise Class/Bridge. First Tuesday, Foot Clinic; second Tuesday, Computer Classes. Wednesday: Sewing/Quilting/Cribbage. Thursday: Blitz/Exercise. Friday: Bingo/Whist. The Merrimack Senior Center opens at 9:30 in the morning, and closes at 4:00 p.m.
A handwritten notice advises “Members & Visitors” where to contribute to the “Tsunami rescue effort.” These seniors are making a difference in others’ lives, while also enhancing their own. Like others in communities elsewhere, this group is social, savvy, supportive and smart.
Back to Hudson, where seniors know what is going on. Instead of sofas and chairs and newspapers, they are facing “Lions (sic) and tigers and bears.”
The situation of the Seniors’ “temporary removal” from the town-owned Lions Hall is well known. In a letter to the Hudson~Litchfield News last month, Lurice K. Sullivan and Shirley Clemons noted that “the seniors are forced to compete with the youth of the town.”
The question is, why?
For what reason does the town of Hudson continue to withhold support from its “greatest generation” of citizens? What does the town stand to lose by contributing to senior citizens‘wellness and longevity?
Unequivocally, “tigers and bears” are hiding in every town department, refusing to hear the Seniors’ collective Voice. But, why? Citizens agree that seniors have paid, still pay, their dues. No one would argue they would like - they deserve - their voice back.
The Senior Voice says that the parking spaces at the Lions Hall are all conveniently close to the front door. “People parking near the Emergency doors can just knock,” says one, and “they’ll be let in, no problem.” The Voice says that putting “ kids” into the Lions Hall - where the grounds are “all cement” - is a mistake, that the “neighbors don’t like it. They are talking about blocking the street, because if they don’t block it, it’ll become a ‘raceway’.” The Voice states that the seniors need a decent, large-enough place to prepare their crafts for the “big fair every year,” to display and sell their [fundraiser] clothes and other items. It notes that town meetings are a “big farce,” that some people have “already made up their minds” about how they will vote on issues affecting them.
The Voice of the Seniors concurs that putting “kids in uniforms” to play on other’s “sympathies” is, at the very least, disrespectful to them [the senior citizens].
Loud and clear, the Senior Voice declares an “ideal solution” would be to just “leave us alone.”
No more shuffling from one center to the other. Let the children stay in the building closer to the school. Use the $100,000 - funds approved by the Town, released by the Trustees - for its “express purpose,” providing a portion of the Lions Club for Senior Center use.
Currently in litigation, the situation may literally “take an act of Congress” to allow the Voice of Hudson Seniors be heard once again.