A Look Back at Old Loudon
Melissa Moore’s new history book about Loudon says tourists boarded at local farms in the 1800s – much like some farms do today. Among other fascinating facts about Loudon’s history, it also reminds us that women were allowed to register to vote for the first time ever in 1920. You can meet Melissa in Concord at Gibson’s Bookstore on Thursday, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m. when she gives readings from her book, “Land of Low Hills, Loudon, New Hampshire; The first 250 Years, 1773-2023.”'
Who doesn’t love to time travel? How is that possible? It’s easy; just read a book about the Civil War or watch a Star Trek movie. Of course, the future is fiction, but the past welcomes us via well-researched nonfiction books. Time travel just got easier with a book by Melissa Moore called “Land of Low Hills.” It’s the history of Loudon, spanning 250 years from incorporation in 1773 to 2023. Loudon formerly was part of Canterbury and, since 1971, has been my home. Melissa, a good friend, is the wife of Larry Moore, a seventh-generation Loudon farmer, and their sons and grandchildren are eighth and ninth generations. The Moores helped shape Loudon.
My first and only home in Loudon is on Whitehouse Road, named after a former owner of our house, Sarah Whitehouse. The house is less than a mile from Shaker Village. I’d been told that Sarah ran a boarding house for visitors to the village. Melissa’s book lends some support to that legend.
In Chapter 4, “Travel and Tourism,” Melissa writes that after the Civil War, farming in Loudon declined as crops from the West flooded Eastern markets, and farming “looked bleak compared to a regular paycheck from a factory job.
“During this time of dwindling population and farm abandonment, the tourist trade looked bright.” Here is an ad in the 1892 Boston Globe: “Summer Boarders wanted at a pleasant farmhouse; high elevation, fine scenery, vegetables and berries in abundance; piano; daily mail. Josiah Leavitt, Sunset Lodge, Loudon, N.H.”
$5 a Day
And W.H. Sanborn placed this ad in the Summer Resorts section of the Sunday Boston Globe in 1895: “Loudon, NH – Grand View house is open for boarders, high elevation, broad piazza, good table, terms $4.50 to $5, mail daily.”
In 1897, New Hampshire Gov. Frank Rollins wrote in New England Magazine that farmers should give guests “plain country fare, plenty of chicken broiled, plenty of fresh eggs, good butter, good bread, and fresh vegetables out of your own garden.” Fresh food (especially broiled chicken) and regular mail were important in the 1890s, much like local food and the internet are today. Our Airbnb rental continues this 1897 tradition, and while we do offer internet, ours is a “Bed and make .your own breakfast.”
Water for Cattle
Melissa interviewed over 50 Loudon residents and spent hours at the Loudon Historical Society and Museum to create this delightful history of Loudon. “Everything I discovered on Loudon at the NH Historical Society was wonderful. Like unwrapping Christmas presents,” she wrote in an email. She also told me that farmers, back in the day, were thrilled to get electricity to pump water for cattle. Horray for electricity and water for cattle.
Melissa is a talented writer who helped me visualize the dirt roads and turnpikes of 250 years ago. You can meet Melissa in Concord at Gibson’s Bookstore on Thursday, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m. when she gives readings from her book, “Land of Low Hills, Loudon, New Hampshire; The first 250 Years, 1773-2023.”