New Boston Historical Society
New Boston, New Hampshire

Selectman Tom Mansfield holds a Friendship Quilt, c.1980

Old Patchwork Quilts from New Boston

The Historical Society has three patchwork quilts made in this town between 1846 and 1904.

quilt1 Friendship or Sympathy Quilt - 1846

This sympathy quilt was presented to Mary Bradford, the widow of a beloved New Boston minister, the Reverend Ephraim Bradford. The gravestone-shaped medallion in the center of this quilt bears the inscription:
This Quilt is presented to Mrs. Bradford by a number of sisters who have long cherished an affectionate regard for her pious examples. Please accept it at this time of your bereavement and affliction as a memorial of their Christian sympathy and affection. -- New Boston 1846

The Rev. Ephraim Putnam Bradford (1776-1845) was the pastor of New Boston's Presbyterian Church. The minister, sometimes called "Priest" Bradford, was educated at Amherst College and Harvard University. He was invited to New Boston in 1805. He married Mary Manning of Amherst the next year and they purchased the farm on Hooper Hill, which later became the home of Rhoda Shaw Clark on Bradford Lane. The Bradfords lived there for 40 years and raised ten children on the minister's salary of $600 per year.

During Rev. Bradford's ministry the meetinghouse in the cemetery was found to be too small, and it was decided in 1823 to build a new church. This two-story church with its tall steeple, sometimes called the "Church on the Hill", stood at the top of Molly Stark Lane until it was struck by lightning and burned in 1900. Fortunately its Paul Revere church bell had been relocated to the Community Church in the new village center a few years before the hilltop church burned.

The Church on the Hill Bradford portraits
Bradford letter
The Widow Bradford wrote "To the Ladies concerned in the memento quilt" in November 1846:
"May all the blessings and kind sentiments expressed on this precious quilt be conferred on each of you."

1n 1979 Roland Sallada noticed the Bradford Sympathy Quilt in an exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art. He discovered that the quilt was owned by the Manchester Historic Association. Manchester agreed to give the quilt to the New Boston Historical Society in 1985.

quilt2 Friendship Quilt

A "friendship quilt" is usually a quilt made by a group of friends or family members for one person. Each friend makes one or more squares, and writes their name or a sentiment on the square. Sometimes these quilts are called "signature quilts".

Roland Sallada The entire quilt has 42 squares and is 78" x 92".

This quilt was purchased at an Andover Massachusetts auction in 1980 by Roland Sallada who recognized many New Boston names on the quilt.

If you have a good memory, you may remember that Roland was also instrumental in acquiring the Bradford sympathy quilt described earlier on this page. Who was this man?

Roland Sallada was a New Boston selectman, a state representative, and a member of the Historical Society. At one time Roland was the manager of a necktie factory which was on the site of the garden center next to the Apple Barn.

In the black & white photo taken in front of the Old Engine House in 1994, Roland is holding a shovel for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new gazebo on the Town Green. The small sign just above David Hulick's shoulder reminds us that the Old Engine House (the 1888 fire station) was the Historical Society museum at that time.

quilt square
Museum interior: the quilt is on a table and the Molly Stark cannon sits on a shelf.

quilt3 Hooper Friendship Quilt 1878-1904

The Hooper Friendship Quilt was made by Nellie Hooper Potter (1861-1949) over a 26-year period. Nellie Hooper started the quilt in 1878 at age 17 before she was married and finished it in 1904 as a married woman of 43 years of age.

Nellie Hooper Potter Nellie was the daughter of Thomas M. Hooper and Sarah F. Hooper. The Hooper family lived in the house at 18 Molly Stark Lane from 1872-1884.

The undated photo of Nellie (left) was donated to the Historical Society by Dennis Hooper.

The quilt has 42 squares and is 64" x 72". It was donated to the Historical Society by the children of Lois Hersey in memory of their mother who had purchased it at an auction.

This page describes three old quilts in the Historical Society's collection. A new quilt with historic significance will soon hang in the Whipple Free Library.

In 2013, the Joe English Grange created a new patchwork quilt to celebrate the 250th anniversary of New Boston's original charter. The Grange encouraged town residents to make quilt squares with a New Boston theme. See this special quilt on the New Boston 250th Anniversary quilt page.

quilt square
"Hillsborough County Fair Quilt Square" by Jean McCreary (2013)