by Robyn Hatch
Jack Noon showing one of his books
A great talk on “Canon Shenanigans and New Hampshire Muster Day” presented by Jack Noon (B.A., Dartmouth College) was held at the Salem Historical Society. This was well worth the time to go. This event was also sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities Council.
Musters were very common at a time when there was very little communication between town people. This was a huge form of social get-togethers that involved games, music and dancing, and of course, plenty of alcohol. In 1767, New Hampshire Governor John Wentworth brought the militia up to very high standards, and was enjoyed by everyone. He was run out of office in 1775. This event was originally designed to keep out trouble with the Indians.
Militia duty was required by state law until 1851. This was also required at age 16 as a passage into manhood. Annual regimental musters might draw a thousand men for marching, and inspection of a dozen to twenty companies from regional towns. At the height of the muster day tradition, there were 42 New Hampshire regiments.
As stated, musters were the annual fall gathering of all companies in a regiment. They were single-day events presided over by brigade and division commanders and inspectors. Marching, inspections, parades, and sham battles were the activities of the day. Musters, in addition to the military preparedness component, were important regional festivals: social gatherings for young and old with music, dancing, vendors of all sorts, charlatans, entertainers, gamblers, auctioneers and abundant alcohol. Locations for musters throughout the state usually rotated among the regiments’ member towns.
A typical regiment was made up of about 12-20 companies from regional towns. In 1792, there were 27 regiments in six brigades and three divisions. By 1842, the state had reached its numerical high of 42 regiments in 8 brigades and 4 divisions. Each regiment was commanded by a colonel, a brigade by a brigadier general, and a division by a major general.
Companies met individually each spring and fall for half-day training and inspections, as required by state law. This often took place beside a tavern. Regimental musters were always in the fall.
Each regiment had a single cannon, which typically would be in great demand among its member towns for non-military celebrations requiring noise – and usually alcohol as well. The Fourth of July and presidential elections were the best excuses for “procuring” cannons and firing them off.
The simple law of supply and demand spawned most town-rivalry cannon shenanigans. The state of New Hampshire attempted to control the excesses with the Legislative Act of July 2, 1825, which required written permission from the commanding officer of an artillery company in order to remove any cannon from its gun-house or wherever else it might be kept.
After many years of this wild partying, the end was gradually coming about. The alcohol was getting way out of control, and this safe fun was starting to get violent and opposite of what had originally been the intention. Sam Dinsmore started challenging this validity, there were more and more violation of laws, and the alcohol and temperance movement of 1820 were in full swing. In 1870, the militia movement turned into the National Guard.
Jack Noon, the speaker, has published both fiction and non-fiction focusing on New Hampshire history. (R.D. 2, Box 1680, Warner, NH 03278)
Pepsi Family Fun Day at Rockingham Park
by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz
Face painting, watermelon, ice cream, and clowns … the list could just go on! Pepsi family fun day hosted by Rockingham Park Racetrack was just so much fun for all ages. Boston’s River 92.5 FM was present along with bounce houses and live cart racing for the whole family to enjoy. And of course, would a family fun day at the racetrack be complete without pony rides? No way, so the line for the pony rides was in constant flow.
Great prizes were awarded for the free raffles. Many of those who attended got to choose their prizes and the hottest prizes were definitely Canobie Lake Park and Six Flags passes, tickets to the Manchester Wolves, Water Country and more. If you missed out, be sure to check it out next year, as it has been an annual event at Rockingham.
The weather was just perfect for an outdoor family event. It was sunny and almost hot, but a perfect cool breeze kept everyone comfortable to enjoy the event. Smiling happy kids could be seen no matter where you looked, and the children’s entertainment such as magic tricks, juggling and balloon creatures made for a picture-perfect scene for the kiddies!
The Field of Dreams in Salem, New Hampshire started their concert series this year with an incredible band, “33K Street”, also from Salem. The band consisted of Mike Rivera, Rick Poulin, Doug and Joe Pierog, and George Williams. With great weather and a crowd of about 100 listeners, this band played music that many of us have already danced to, as well as originals from the band under the direction of Mike Riveria. Popcorn, soft drinks, and 50-50 raffles for Canobie Lake passes closed down a great night. More concerts every Thursday will be following throughout the summer.
Most of the band
Troop 2124 Service Project
Salem Girl Scout Troop 2124 presents quilts it made for a service project to the Sunshine Soup Kitchen, a nonprofit corporation, serving free, hot meals to anyone in need since 1989. In addition, it offers limited services such as a clothing ministry where it stores a small quantity of clothing, bedding and linens for those in need.
From left, front: Kaitlin Novak, Shyann DiGiovanni, Allison DiGiovanni, Sarah Georgy and
Chloe Broadhurst. Second row: Kaitlyn Meskell. Leaders, from left, Paula Jacomb,
Patricia DiGiovanni and Lori Georgy