New Boston Historical Society
New Boston, New Hampshire
Schoolhouse #11
Schoolhouse #11, teacher Annie Atwood — 1890

Glass Negatives of 1890s New Boston
annotated by David Woodbury

In May of 2019, David Woodbury presented a slideshow of old photographs of New Boston, selected from a collection of 140 glass negatives given to the Historical Society thirty years ago by Mrs. Amy Miller of Rindge, NH. Most of the negatives are twice the size of a dollar bill, and they're particularly valuable because the photographers labeled them with subject and date.

David worked for months in 2018-2019 using our digital equipment to convert each negative into a positive image. He examined each photo closely as he adjusted contrast and brightness. When he shared his observations with us at our evening meeting, David pointed out many details I hadn't noticed, so I asked him to write them down. You may read all of David's comments by clicking here, or scroll down for some excerpts. — Dan R., website editor

The first photographs on this page were taken by Myrtie Mae Atwood(1868-1949). Myrtie was the daughter of storekeeper Solomon Dodge Atwood and his wife Florence Adelaide Dodge Atwood. Her sisters were Annie, who is the school teacher in the photo at the top of this page, and Florence F. Atwood. Myrtie married George Eastman of Weare; their one child Arthur lived for only two months in 1894.

Notes for the schoolhouse photo: "Annie Atwood, aged 17 had just received her teaching certificate in April. This photo is dated June of 1890. Annie is barely older than her pupils. The #11 school was at the junction of what is now Route 136 (the Francestown Road) and Tucker Mill Road. It was discontinued in 1908, long after this photo was taken and Annie had left teaching to help run her father's store."

"Mr. King's Pie Picture - November 27, 1890"

November 27, 1890 was Thanksgiving. Here the Atwood daughters are indulging in an ancient tradition of the pie breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. The pie looks like pumpkin or squash. We don't know who Mr. King was or why Myrtie Atwood titled this glass plate as she did.

"Mr C, Mr B, Annie and Flo - May 31, 1892"

Tennis in New Boston in the 1890s didn't look like tennis in later years; there are no tennis whites or even lines. We know Annie and Flo Atwood, but we don't know "Mr. C" or "Mr. B". In spite of these occasions, neither Annie nor Flo ever married.

"Harold Hyde and his Cart - August 1, 1890"

Myrtie Atwood took many portraits of children. Boys were typically dressed like girls until about when they were potty trained, then they graduated to short trousers and long stockings. Putting little boys in skirts facilitated changing diapers.

"Tommie Hooper - February 27, 1892"

Interior shots are rare considering the difficulty of photography with available light. Perhaps that's the reason we don't see Tommie's mother, except for her hand. This was taken in the family home on Molly Stark Lane which burned circa 1980s and has since been rebuilt. Tommie lived until about 1970.

Notice the match containers by the door. Imagine entering a room at night before electricity... You needed an immediate light source, hence the matches.

"Harry Colby and his Coon - September 2, 1890"

We have the racoon, of course, with lanterns and a dog. Also a double action revolver. We had a hard time with the device slung across the chest of the man on the left. We finally identified is a climbing iron used by linemen to climb telephone poles. Since coon hunting involved climbing trees after a treed coon, such a device would be very helpful.

The last photo on this page was taken by Edwin H. Dodge (1874-1951). He was the son of Lendell and Ellen Lamson Dodge, who had a farm on South Hill. The Historical Society has many fine photos taken by Edwin of New Boston buildings; some of these appeared in an article about New Boston in the April 1897 issue of The Granite Monthly.

"Dilapidated House w/ Man on Barrel... Joe English Behind"

This picture asks a lot of questions. Is that really Joe English Hill in the background? Since the photographer Edwin Dodge lived on South Hill, it probably is, but this view today would be obscured by tree growth.
What was the building? It doesn't look like a dwelling, but if it was, it would have been rudimentary at best. It was on its last legs in this mid-1890s picture.
The man on the barrel waving a rifle is making a gag photo, we think. What is in his left hand?
And what is the wire in the foreground? We're miles away from any electricity-generating source or from any phone service that we know of.

David Woodbury is the president of the New Boston Historical Society.