EATON TOWN CEMETERY TOUR: OCTOBER 13, 2013
We have two types of Points of Interest on the Tour:
a. Our Special Speakers who have agreed to share with you some personal and Eaton history, which is based on research. These are marked with numbers.
b. Some stones that we found interesting based on NO research, but only on the stones and our own imaginations. These have no Speakers and are marked with the alphabet letters.
A. Joseph Shackford
The longest living resident, he was 94 when he died, which was necessary, as he was married THREE times. Note that Wife #1 was Named Eliza Jane, AND Wife #2 was also named Eliza Jane. Also note that the two wives have traditional headstones, while Joseph’s is low to the ground. Where is Wife #3? Follow me, please.
B. Apphia Shackford
Joseph’s third wife. She is buried with her first, ex-husband, Roswell Harmon. Hmmm – somewhere there’s a story here.
C. Fannie Abbott Dana
Traditional headstone but possibly carved by a novice, or a special cult? Notice the reversed N’s.
D. Nancy Drew
This was pointed out by Nancy Burns, for all of the women here of a certain age, many of whom dreamed of being Nancy Drew. Incidentally, Nancy was the grandmother of Eliza Jane Sawyer, wife #2 of Joseph Shackford.
*1. William Robertson
He died in 1813 and was the first to be buried in this cemetery. He founded Eaton Center.
WILLIAM ROBERTSON (1759-1813)
I was born in 1759 in Scotland. My family moved to Saratoga, NY where I grew up and where I lived when War broke out in 1776. Feeling patriotic and being only 17 years of age, I rushed to join the Army. Unfortunately, I rushed too fast because I had enlisted with the British! They sent me off to Canada, near Montreal, where a lot of skirmishes were going on with the American Continental Army. So I slipped across the lines with the intent of joining the right army this time. They wouldn’t take me! They said if I was caught, I would be hanged as a deserter, so I should just get lost and head for the hills.
I headed south toward Conway, NH. I loved hunting and ranged over the surrounding countryside, eventually ending up near a pretty body of water. Once the War was over, I was able to buy 50 acres of land by this water from William Snell, who got it — and a lot of other parcels — in a tax sale when the original grantee, Nate Martin, never paid his taxes, or even came near it. So in 1784, the same year Eaton held its first Town Meeting, I became the first Pioneer settler and Landowner of what became known as Robertson’s Corner and Robertson’s Pond, and then in 1849, Eaton Center. Too bad they lost the Robertson name; they even fancied up the pond to Lake and at some point called it Crystal Lake.
I was 25 years old and ready to settle down, so I built a cabin, and married Elizabeth Conway from NY and started a family. I must have rushed too fast again, because after four children Elizabeth and I decided to go our separate ways. She felt too isolated, so she left me and the children behind. This time I slowed down a bit and married Lydia Allard, the woman I had hired to help with the children. Together we had eight more.
My youngest, Robert, was born the year before I died, but we know things here, and let me tell you, Robert and his two sons (MY grandsons!) Henry and Charles, make a man proud. They were instrumental in building the church here, a Freewill Baptist group whose religion reminds me of the high morals of the kirk in Scotland, but with the proper sense of individuality and respect for others expected from New Hampshire people who fought for liberty and the right to pursue happiness! Robert donated the land for the church and the three of them, Robert, Henry and Charles, were in charge of building. And a fine structure it is!
So just remember, don’t rush too fast and it will all work out!!
E. Lydia Robertson Wife of Robert and daughter-in-law of William. Robert gave the land for the Little White Church and with his sons, Henry and Charles, was in charge of its construction.
Note Lydia’s inscription, “She did what she could”. That can certainly be interpreted many ways. We thank Edith Dashnau for showing us this.
*2. Daniel Russell
Revolutionary War veteran and Eaton’s first doctor
DANIEL RUSSELL (1752-1837)
I was born in 1752, a fifth generation man of the American colonies. I lived in Rindge, NH when those nasty British redcoats fired on the true people at Lexington on April 19, 1775. I hurried off to enlist — took me four days to get to Cambridge, but it was in time to be part of the Continental Army and see action at Bunker Hill on June 17. When the enlistment time was over, we all went back home — until the fighting began in earnest. So in March of 1777 I reenlisted. This time I wasn’t so lucky. Just six months later a musket ball from those Redcoats found my side and back and sent me first to the hospital for a month until I could walk, and then home for good. Because of that musket ball, I couldn’t do much physical labor, so I had to go on the pension rolls for the rest of my life.Somehow I had the good fortune to end up in Eaton in 1812, where I later met and married my sweet Betsy in 1814. Though settlers had been slow to come to Eaton before 1812, perhaps because too many had heard the old saying,“God created the world in six days, and spent the seventh throwing ! ! ! rocks at New Hampshire”,the pace picked up after the War of 1812. I was able to buy some land — 250 acres — near the outlet of Robinson’s Pond (now called Crystal Lake), and with pension money and some doctoring (hey, they called me the First Doctor of Eaton in that fancy book by the Henneys!), I lived until 1837.I had a fine son, Thomas, born in 1821, who was 16 when I died. I’m proud that he, like me, was quick to join the Army when the call went out — for him it came from Pres. Lincoln. Thomas was 41 years old, which may have been why he caught a lung ailment, which killed him as sure as a bullet. As fine as it sounds to hear our titles of Private of the Revolution (Me) and Soldier of the Rebellion (Tom), they came at a high cost. I guess war always does.One of the major issues facing Eaton in those years was Roads. There were too many and too little equipment to keep them safe. The Town often had to pay damages that resulted from accidents due to poor conditions. ‘Course, I understand that even with fewer roads and better equipment today, you still have problems!I guess another concern we had back then, taxes, is also still an issue. That and caring for the poor. Some things never really change…F. Rufus and Betsy Head
One of the few early families with descendants bearing the original name and still in Eaton. The Heads lived — and live (you may know Tom and Terry) — in Snowville, so additional family members are in the Snowville cemetery. This is a good time to suggest that you visit that cemetery to see memorials to other important Founding Families, such as the Snows and Atkinsons.
*3. Nathaniel and Mary Palmer
Active citizens who started the Palmer House Inn, now the site of our beloved Palmer House PUB.
Mr. and Mrs. Palmer……..
NATHANIEL G. (1840-1899) AND MARY PALMER (1837-1921)
N: I was born in 1840, son of Nathaniel J. and Jane Robertson Palmer. They lived across the road from each other at Robertson’s Corner, so it was almost a case of “the girl next door”. I was one of the lucky few Eaton men to serve in the army during the Civil War and come back home. I married Mary Jane Day……..
M: Another reason you were lucky!
N: Yes, Dear. And we moved in next door to my parents in their small house on the corner. After they died, we had the idea to enlarge the original house by building a new Greek Revival, Victorian style home around it.
M: It sure was impressive looking. In fact, it still is!
N: Life was busy in Eaton after the War. Unfortunately, farming was poor, and many of the young people still around moved away.
M: But that left the women and another of your brilliant ideas!
N: The sewing machine was a great new invention. I bought fabric wholesale, cut it out with fashion patterns on the third floor of our house, and distributed the pieces to the women in the town to make clothes on their own machines in their homes.
M: Other men supplied pants and suit pieces, but it was the WOMEN who did the work! Why, Mrs. Charles White made 417 pants in 1886 for $67.33!
N: Also about this time we started seeing a new group of people — summer boarders, later known as tourists. They came to the White Mountains to get away from the heat and the hectic life of the big cities.
M: Eaton attracted those who wanted a quieter break than some of the fancier resorts, as well as the cheaper prices. We charged a dollar a day, as did the Robertsons, while the charge in Conway was FIVE dollars a day!
N: Still, the Palmer House was a successful business, even after you and I both died. My only regret, now that our beautiful house has once again become an attraction for boarders and people who dine out, is that room called The Palmer House PUB. You know how hard I worked for temperance.
M: Now, dear, these new folks enjoy getting together, and they don’t overdo it. Its mostly the food and atmosphere with those nice owners, Tim and Bobby…
N: Oh, all right. But the Free Will Baptists would never have allowed it. Speaking of which, in 1878-and ’79 we helped my Robertson uncle and cousins with the new Church by subscribing to purchase four pews. And while you people here may call it “little” (Little White Church), it was plenty big for us. Yes, a worthwhile endeavor…….
M: You stayed active for years as one of its leaders!
N: In 1893 Eaton finally got its first Free Public Library. The Selectmen appointed Luther Dearborn, Eugene Hatch and me as trustees……….
M: And YOU were the first Librarian!
N: It may have been because we also offered space in our house for the first year without charge.
M: Don’t forget that for awhile the post office was here as well.
N: Yes those were the days, dear Mary, those were the days.
M: Until 1899, when you died and left me to continue running the Palmer House on my own.
N: You did have the help of our children, who continued for 14 years even after you died in 1923.
M: Yes, you’re right, dear. We really were blessed, with Eaton, each other and our family.
*4. Albert Paul
A Civil War veteran who lived in what is now JoAnn Kelly’s house, right up from Robertson’s Corner — and the Pub. ! Mr. Paul………..
ALBERT PAUL (1846-1927)
I was born in Eaton in 1846, greatgrandson of the famous Gen. Eli Glines of Revolutionary War times. Eaton had grown pretty large by the time I was born, with a population of 1,743 in 1850. Then came the Big Divide. No, not the Civil War, but the split between Eaton and Madison! After Madison became its own town, Eaton’s population dropped to 780 and has only gotten smaller over the years.
Then came the next Big Divide, with the Southern states splitting off in an attempt to make their own nation. I served in the U.S. Army against those Rebels, though as I didn’t turn 18 until near the War’s end, I was only there for a few months. It was long enough for me to end up in a field hospital in Petersburg with mumps and kidney disease, but on July 29, 1865 I was discharged and able to come home to Eaton.
A few years later I met Zylphia Thurston. We got married and I earned money by making wooden ladders in the winter for sale in the spring. Good thing Zylphia was an excellent cook — saved us from buying anything ‘ceptin’ staples, since we used mostly our own food that Zylphia grew and canned.
Our house had an interesting history. At one time it served as a stage coach stop on the road from Portsmouth to Conway. The kitchen was originally the town meeting house that was located on Glines Hill at the corner with Young Rd. In 1896 the town voted to get rid of it, so I paid $25 for it and hauled it by oxen down to my house at the bottom of the hill. It was attached to the back of the house as the kitchen and attached to the barn with an ell. Our daughter, Gertrude, and her husband Winfield Leavitt lived with us in our later years. They finally moved to Conway where we stayed with them in the winter. Our house in Eaton got mighty cold without central heat or insulation! I suppose the present owner, Joanne Kelly, has made a few changes.
Beginning in the 1860’s, cider was a favorite drink — hard cider, that is. Liquor was heavily frowned upon, the apple orchards planted by the earlier settlers had matured and produced bountiful crops, so it was a natural fit to make cider. Although the women weren’t too happy about all the home-brew, it was to be found at most gatherings — funerals, weddings, ordainings, church raisings, but not at Town Meetings. A side effect was the damage to the land. The pulp and drippings from all the cider mills affected the land’s fertility, taking as long as 60 years for recovery.
Well, anyhow, my niece, Mamie, daughter of Joel and Mary Paul, married Wollace Thompson in 1903 and lived in Snowville, where Wollace made and distributed hard cider. Unfortunately, when prohibition came along, this was illegal. That didn’t stop Wollace, however. He simply kept his jugs on a string line in Snow Brook behind his house. When a customer came by, Wollace would go to the creek and remove a jug from the line. The sheriff never did find that string.
When I died in 1927, my funeral service was pretty special. We were one of the original pew holders of the Free Will Baptist Church, I was the last surviving Civil War veteran of the Eaton enlistees, and I had also been a member of the Odd Fellows. The Odd Fellows ritual was performed and white doves were released after the graveside ceremony.
Yes, life was hard, but careful living and being in Eaton made it worth it.
G. James Morrison
Our newest resident, Mr. Morrison died this past March. Much of our information of the Paul family was taken from a memoir he wrote in 1991. He had mentioned even then that he was looking forward to being with his ancestors, back in Eaton. He is descended from the Glines of Glines Hill and the Fosses of Foss Mountain, as well as the Pauls of Paul Hill. Now he is in the spiritual cradle of Eaton Center, with no more hills to climb.
*5. Winnifred Dearborn Noon
As the daughter of Minnie Robertson Dearborn, Winnie Noon brings us back to the Robertsons, the founders of Eaton Center and forward to the present. She is buried in the lower section, a private area belonging to the Timberlake Family
WINNIFRED DEARBORN NOON (1893-1986)
I was born in Eaton in 1893, daughter of Minnie Robertson and Luther Dearborn, in my grandfather Henry Robertson’s house, now the Timberlake house. My father’s work as a Quaker minister and farmer didn’t bring in much money, so we turned the house into a hotel to provide boarding for people who came to Eaton for vacations. My mother had a tea shop there, the Green Bow, that was known for its homemade ice cream. One summer day when I was sixteen, Theodore Noon, a tutor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, had been hiking up Mt. Washington and stopped by for some ice cream. It turns out he was the greatgrandson of John Atkinson from Snowville. Even though he was 18 years older than I was and very handsome, he fell in love with me! He insisted I go to finishing school before we could get married, but as our marriage lasted over fifty years, it was worth the three year wait. It also gave him time to publish a book on The Origin of the Last Supper.
Much of our married life we lived in Cambridge, where Theodore taught Harvard students.This was also where we raised our four children, but we always came back to Eaton for the summers, of course. Once the train stopped coming to Conway, the boarding house business declined, so we started the Crystal Lake Camp for Girls at Eaton Center. This was in the house between the Little White Church and our house on the corner. Our daughter, Dorothy, who had married Dr. Timberlake, a physician from Massachusetts, was the camp director after I retired.
In 1971 Dorothy started her internationally recognized candy business, making barley sugar hard candy. Eventually she and Dr. Timberlake moved to our house full time, bringing the candy business with her from Massachusetts. Although their daughter, Faith, kept the business going for ten years after Dorothy died in 1998, the times had changed yet again, and Faith closed the business permanently.
Our son Robert followed after his father, attending Harvard University, Brown University, Boston University and Harvard Divinity School, where he received his theological degree and became an ordained minister. Robert chose to return to Eaton after he died in 2009. He is one of the most recent additions to our cemetery community.
My brother Claude owned the property beside this very cemetery. When he died, I put in a bid for it, but John Edge offered more and took it over for a beach and parking for his boarders up at Rock House Mountain Lodge on Ridge Road, right up from the Palmer House (now the Inn at Crystal Lake).
Although there have been many changes since the early settlers came, with few of their descendants now around, much of what makes Eaton so special still remains. Some of it is the land, with the hills and lakes, the serenity and peacefulness. But even though new people keep coming, they are drawn for the same reasons as the earlier groups, the sense of caring and community, and the importance of the land. We hope that you, the current living inhabitants, will treasure our town and keep it healthy for the ones who will follow you.
- Nancy Malvesta, Eaton New Hampshire Cemetery Records with genealogic background material
- Nella and Keith Henney, The Early Days of Eaton and The Eaton Record
- James Albert Morrison: Personal Memoir, written July 7, 1991