Once upon a Berlin Time Poof Tardiff
Hello fellow Berlinites. My last installment for history of the year 1903 took place in Berlin during December of this busy year. There were thefts and accidents that made the headlines during this month.
On Monday evening Dec. 21, 1903, Joseph Lemieux, the 12-year-old son of Eugene Lemieux of Berlin, was arrested by the local authorities at the initiation of the postmaster. It appeared that for the past five weeks George S. Haddad, who conducted a dry goods store on Main Street, had been missing his mail or thought that he was not getting all of it. One week before, he had received some goods from New York and later asked why he had not paid the bill that was sent. Other pieces of mail did not seem to arrive, so he complained to Postmaster Bean.
Mr. Bean suggested that Haddad put some old letters in his mailbox. This he did and when he came for his mail as usual, the letters were missing. To make a long story short, a way was devised to find out who was stealing Mr. Haddad’s mail. The young Lemieux boy was caught red-handed, but insisted that he didn’t have a key. Mr. Haddad had left one in his box and could not find it, having another one made.
When Postmaster Bean arrived at the post office he got the keys from the young lad and then notified the New England post office authorities, who arrested the boy. Mr. Haddad said that no money had been taken, only business letters. I do not know what became of the boy. I would say that he was reprimanded and released to his parents since he did not steal any money, but stealing from the post office was and still is a serious crime.
There were also more accidents in and about the local mills during December that resulted in serious injuries and one sad death.
Early Wednesday morning on Dec.9, 1903, Ferdinand Cadarette, a brakeman in the employ of the Berlin Mills Company, fell beneath the wheels of a train engine upon which he was riding. Both of his legs were severed below the knee and he died from the effects at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Just after midnight on Tuesday, engine No. 1, of which I have a picture, in charge of engineer John Burbank, of whom I also have a picture, with Cadarette as a brakeman, was running down the East Side to the Burgess Mill for a load and Cadarette was riding on the foot board in front of the engine. When they got near the mill, he either fell or slipped from his position dropping in front of the locomotive, which passed over both of his legs.
The accident was not discovered by the other men in the crew, as Cadarette did not scream or shout. On their return trip, engineer Burbank and his crew found the badly injured man on the rails. He was taken to the carpenter shop of the Berlin Mills Company and Doctors Lavallee and Cobb were summoned. Both legs were cut nearly off with one being removed at the shop and the other at the emergency hospital on High Street. This hospital was just above Doctor Kruysman’s office.
Everything in the power of the attending physicians was done to render the man comfortable and save his life, but Cadarette passed away late in the afternoon. Ferdinand Cadarette was 37 years old and had a wife and six children who were suddenly without a husband and a father.
It was the habit of the men on the front of the engines used by the company in the cold weather back then to get close to the boiler on account of the warmth it afforded and often their arms were folded, leaving them no secure hold to prevent them from falling.
This accident was one of the saddest which took place among the employees of the company for a long time. As the years went on though, other tragic accidents took the lives of many men in the mills of this city.
Finally, a prominent North Country banker was arrested by a United States Marshall on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1903. Albert H. Eastman, one of Berlin’s well-known residents and president of the Berlin National Bank, was charged for making false entries in the books of the aforementioned bank. Mr. Eastman was on his way from Woodsville to Berlin when the arrest took place. The charge was a note claiming to have been a debt of George M. Marshall, cashier of the Gorham National Bank, that should have been entered as a debt of Mr. Eastman.
Mr. Eastman came to Berlin in 1890 and started a small private bank in the second story of the Stahl Block on the corner of Main and Mechanic Streets. He had capital of about $3,000, but it was said that he had the backing of a former Berlinite in the amount of $10,000 if needed.
Eastman did well in this endeavor and wanted more, so he helped organize the Berlin Savings Bank and Trust company. He did not get the position he wanted, so he started the Berlin National Bank and was elected cashier for this enterprise. He was with this bank for 10 years, being president and vice president at times.
Eastman was also instrumental in starting the Groveton National Bank and the Farmers and Traders National Bank of Colebrook. He also had interest in some banks in North Conway, Pepperell, Mass., and in Boston.
Mr. Eastman was certainly a great local banker who assisted many of our Berlin companies to a better state of finances often times at a loss to himself, but always to their benefit. He had many friends here in Berlin who did not believe that he committed a crime.
During February of 1904, as I went ahead in time, Albert H. Eastman of this city was indicted by a United States grand jury on 25 different counts. When Eastman was president of the National Bank and a director of the Gorham National Bank he came under fire for these wrongdoings. The charges stated that as president and director of these banks he had a controlling interest in their stock standing in his name. With this, Eastman was accused of misapplying and abstracting the funds, credits and money of both banks and making false entries on the books of the Berlin National Bank. The indictment was also found by the grand jury against one other person, whose name was not made public.
In an interview with Mr. Eastman, he said that he felt perfectly at ease over this affair, and when he had the opportunity for an exclamation he could convince everybody that the books were all right. Eastman was certainly in a predicament and I do not know what his outcome was, as the case did continue.