Then and Now: The sunny side of the burying ground

By Bill Marvel

albra-farm-thenThe Garland farm in the 1880s. (WILLIAM MARVEL COLLECTION)Between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, most of the families that moved to South Conway came from York County, Maine. In 1855, Calvin and Mehitable Hatch came up from Sanford with their six children, buying a farm near Goshen Corner. A number of residents were then migrating to Iowa, and in 1857, the Hatches moved to a nearby farm left behind by Lemuel Potter, one of the district's earliest settlers. The 70 acres of fields included the perennially "reserved" old Goshen burying ground, in use since the 18th century. The Hatches' new house, which was already quite old, burned down soon afterward. To replace it, they built the one seen above, where their last child was born in 1859. That boy died in 1861, and they lost another who died in the Union Army. After Calvin's death, in 1870, the oldest remaining son moved to Davis Hill and took his mother with him.

White Mountain Chronicles: Recalling North Conway's old days as told by the late Chubby Whitaker

Editor's note: The Mountain Ear was founded by Jane Golden Reilly and Steve Eastman in May 1976. The award-winning news weekly and lifestyle journal of Mount Washington Valley was sold by Eastman to Salmon Press in March 2005. Its last issue was in December 2014. Eastman — who died at age 58 from a brain tumor in April 2008 — always wanted to publish an annual book, hoping to call it "White Mountain Chronicles." In collaboration with Eastman's wife, Sarah W. Eastman, brother Tom Eastman (who worked at The Ear from 1979 before coming to The Sun in 2007) and former staff writer Karen Cummings, The Conway Daily Sun on occasional Saturdays is publishing some of those stories relating to local history. This story originally appeared in the Feb 18, 1977, edition of The Mountain Ear. It profiled Charles "Chubby" Whitaker (1895-1977), whose family once owned Whitaker Woods in North Conway.


chub-whitakerChub Whitaker is shown lighting his wood stove in February 1977. Born in 1896, he died in August 1977. (JANE GOLDEN REILLY PHOTO)CONWAY — He remembers before they plowed the roads in Conway, when he'd pick up the 6:20 a.m. train from the A Street station en route to school at Fryeburg Academy, when he could walk down Main Street and knew everyone he met.

It's not like that anymore, he's sad to report, and "I'm getting awfully sick of looking at Main Street. If I could see a good team of horses going down the street now and then, it would be all right, but I don't think that's likely to happen."

Charles Wallace Whittaker should know. From his unique vantage point — the first house on the right heading north of North Conway Village — he's watched the town grow from a small north country village around the turn of the century to a large, expanding community.

Better known as Chub to his friends, a name that better describes his spirit than his diminutive size, he spends the winter inside the rambling 14-room farmhouse that has been his home for close to 80 of his 81 years. Crippled by ruptured discs, an ailment that has plagued him since his surveying days 40 years ago, he finds winter travel too difficult, but he's a familiar figure in the center of town in the summer.

It wasn't always like that. He described how, after he graduated from Brewster Academy, he returned home to work the farm, a 100-acre tract located on River Road.

"You live on a farm, you had to have a lot of jobs — blacksmith, quarryman, horse doctor," he said.

Arthur Wiggin memoirs: Drunk with happiness

Shortly before his death in 2005, Arthur gave me an autobiography he had typed “to do with as you wish.” The first chapters naturally dealt with growing up in the Conway of a century ago. Several staff members of the Daily Sun thought that this might be of interest to the general populace. We have been presenting it in chapter form. We hope you enjoy these glimpses. Uncle Arthur would be very pleased that his life story is being remembered. — Brian P. Wiggin

By Arthur J. Wiggin

Nov. 8, 1939, was one of the happiest days of our lives. A son, Robert, was born in Memorial Hospital. Because I was working in Laconia, we made arrangements for neighbors to take Vera to the hospital when the moment came. Luckily, our son waited until the weekend so all of our worries were needless. We visited Vera every night after work — in those days, women stayed eight days for childbirth. Even Mother was required to stay in bed eight days when she delivered each of her 15 children at home.

Whitaker Woods is family's legacy

By Tom Eastman

In 1971, with assistance from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, the Whitakers made it possible for the town to acquire the 171-acre Whitaker Woods. It is managed by the town’s conservation commission, and its ski touring trails have been maintained since the late 1980s per an agreement with the town by the nonprofit Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Foundation. Its trails serve as the home site for the defending champion Kennett High Eagles boys and girls cross country ski team and will serve as host for a home ski meet Feb. 1.
In summer, its trails serve as a popular hiking, walking and running site by the White Mountain Milers and other groups. Whitaker Field in summer is used by recreational adult softball and youth baseball leagues as well as for soccer and kickball, and is run by the Conway Parks and Recreation Department.
The no-longer standing Whitaker homestead was built in 1830 and was moved to its current location in 1867. That structure had been earmarked for historic preservation, but burned in April 1996. At the time, the building was owned by the state — it was boarded up and unoccupied at the time, but the electricity was still on.
At the time of the fire, the house was part of the so-called Bancroft property purchased by the state in 1994 for Route 16 bypass mitigation. The state later turned the property over to the town to help compensate for bypass impacts on Whitaker Woods.
In October 2000, the town opened its Whitaker Meeting House on the site of the Whitaker homestead.
Whitaker Woods and the site carry on the Whitaker family’s name. The following interview gives a glimpse of the man who loved to give figure skating lessons in North Conway’s Schouler Park skating rink, of the house that once stood at the north end of Main Street and of a different time and way of life in the village.