Once Upon a Berlin Time: 1903 — X

By Poof Tardiff

Hello fellow Berlinites. The month of December 1903 still had plenty of news about this city that made history.

Word was received in Berlin on Saturday, Dec. 24, 1903, to the effect that the Honorable R. N. Chamberlin of Berlin had a meeting with the governor and council on Dec. 23 and was appointed as associate justice of the superior court of the state of New Hampshire. The appointment of this famous Berlin lawyer was a foregone conclusion for several days, since it was mentioned that the judge from Littleton had resigned his post.

Mr. Chamberlin began his position on Jan. 1, 1904. This appointment necessitated his entire withdrawal from the practice of law and the partnership that existed since 1893 under the firm name of Chamberlin and Rich. The business continued under the direction of Mr. George Rich.

In 1881, Mr. Chamberlin came to the small village of Berlin and opened an office, doing business in law and insurance, which he continued for many years. His law practice increased to such an extent that he dropped the insurance portion and devoted his entire attention to his profession.

He was the first lawyer to settle in Berlin and at that time the “Paper City” was a small and comparatively sparsely settled town. Chamberlin was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar Association on March 15, 1883. Since that time he had been located here and eventually became a partner with George F. Rich (Berlin’s ninth mayor).

The business that he built up was large and lucrative. For 20 years, a large part of the legal affairs of the Berlin Mills Company was in his hands and practically all of the Grand Trunk Railroad business in the state went through his office. He was certainly one of this city’s top attorneys.

Another sad accident took place in the city of Berlin that touched the hearts of many of this city's citizens back then and had the sympathy of the entire community for the bereaved parents. It occurred on Dec. 17, 1903, and made the headlines of both local papers.

During this Thursday afternoon, Percy, the 4-year-old son of John Armstrong of Western Avenue, set fire to his clothing and died from the effects of the injuries he received. Late on this sad day, Mrs. Armstrong left the house to go across the street, leaving the child standing in the window, where she told him to remain until she returned. When the mother came back to the house, not more than 3 minutes later, her son was nowhere to be seen.

Soon, however, she heard the boy calling for her, screaming that he was burning. Mrs. Armstrong rushed into another room to find the child with his clothing in flames. In her short absence Percy had found some matches, lit them, and set fire to his clothing.

A doctor was immediately sent for, but the youngster could not be saved and he passed away at 7 p.m. Little Percy was one of two children, and his presence was greatly missed.

A December issue of the newspaper had an article about what it took to feed the men in a woods camp. These were the Berlin Mills Company camps that were in the lakes region of Western Maine during 1903.

“The Berlin Mills Company supplies were all in the storehouse on the Cupsuptic,” said Emerson Ames who had worked here for the past eight years. They were taken by boat earlier than usual because of ice.

They were delayed by the non-arrival of potatoes from the West in 1902, and the next day after they finished, they had to break some ice coming down the lake to take the train home. Thus they started earlier in 1903.

There were four camps in the Kennebago region which were supplied from the main storehouse, three at Lincoln Pond, and several other jobs in the neighborhood. The supplies were taken by train to Bemis and then carried across Lake Mooselookmenguntic in the Berlin Mills Company’s enormous tug.

As each camp had between 50 and 75 men, quite a bit of provisions were necessary to keep the wolf from howling about the door through the winter. In the first place, 15 cars of oats and six cars of corn went over for the great horses involved in the logging operations. Then came the provisions for the men, 650 barrels of flour being an important item.

In 1903, the supplies included two cars each of sugar, kerosene, salt pork and corned beef; one car of lard, one of pea beans, one of cabbage and other vegetables. Along with this came 100 boxes of prunes, 125 boxes of evaporated apples and big lots of raisins, cream of tarter, spices and 25 casks of kerosene.

Tea and coffee were staples and 50 pounds of Rio and Java mixed and pounds of tea were sent to the storehouse. Oleo margarine, the best substitute for butter that the lumberjack could get, was laid in stock, between 200 and 300 boxes being in a lot.

From what was called the old Toothaker farm at Kennebago, the Berlin Mills Company purchased 1,000 bushels of potatoes for these camps. Besides the Kennebago camps, there were six more at Bemis that were under the charge of James Keenan. At Kennebago, William Mahaney was in charge. Both of these men were local and famous woods bosses.

Moreover, in addition to the supplies sent during 1903, the supplies that were left by the crews that had finished work on the railway extension were purchased for the woodsmen.

There were also the many camps that were along the Swift and Dead Diamond rivers that had to be supplied, not to mention the other outpost in northern New Hampshire. All of these camps worked to get the logs to the mills in Berlin via the Androscoggin River.

The men worked hard and they were fed well, but it took a great cook back then to make the supplies tasty and satisfying to the woodsmen. If this wasn’t done, the camp chef was history.

I do have one more chapter about the year 1903, as it was a big year in the history of this city.

Questions or comments email <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and make a guess at the previously posted weekly pictures.


Jerry Knirk: Graham-Cassidy is not health-care reform

Just when we thought that the repeal and replace effort against Obamacare was over, the Republicans are back with the Graham-Cassidy bill. The premise of this bill is to turn over control to the states but it is a Trojan horse which does much more, cutting funding drastically.

The sponsors have noted that the Affordable Care Act sends much more money to certain populous states such as California, New York, Massachusetts (blue states). They fail to mention that these states receive more because they expanded Medicaid. Non-expansion states chose not to accept the federal money. The initial plan of the ACA was for all states to expand Medicaid. Legal challenges made in an attempt to kill the ACA resulted in Medicaid expansion being an option for states. Many red states chose not to expand Medicaid and therefore did not obtain the added funds.

Graham-Cassidy would markedly cut the funds for states that expanded Medicaid, particularly California and New York, and would give more to states that did not expand Medicaid, especially Texas.

A particularly interesting carve-out exists for Alaska. The carve-out is to give low-population-density states with health-care spending more than 20 percent above the U.S. mean an exemption from the deep cuts to Medicaid, giving them about 50 percent more funding. Only Alaska and North Dakota fit that description.

It is notable that a senator from Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has voted against the previous repeal and replace bills. This appears to be a carve-out to get her on board with this bill. It may be unconstitutional, as it does not provide uniform treatment of the states.

This bill is being pushed through without a reasonable hearing process and on such a rapid time frame that the Congressional Budget Office will not to be able to properly score it to see how many millions of people this plan will throw off health-care insurance. It likely will be tens of millions.

Graham-Cassidy rolls together Medicaid funding and ACA cost-sharing subsidies into a block grant to each state. However, the block grants will be cut by 25 percent in five years and completely eliminated in 10 years. The cost sharing subsidies will end in 2020. While states that did not expand Medicaid will get a windfall initially, they too will see the block grants diminish over time, then disappear. Many governors oppose this bill as they will have to pick up the pieces.

The impact on New Hampshire will be catastrophic. We will lose $1 billion over the next 10 years. Before the ACA, our hospitals faced $400 million per year in unfunded liabilities due to taking care of people without insurance. These liabilities decreased significantly after Medicaid expansion. As people are thrown off insurance, we will see increased costs of uncompensated care that will be very difficult for our smaller, rural hospitals to absorb.

Graham-Cassidy removes many other positive features of the ACA. It repeals mandates to have health insurance. As I have noted in previous columns, it is important to have everybody in the insurance pool to share the risk and prevent the inevitable cost shifting that occurs when people are not covered. The medical costs of the uninsured do not go away, they just get shifted to those with insurance and the taxpayers.

It also repeals the subsidies, which lower premiums, deductibles and co-pays. This will make insurance more expensive. This bill allows states to waive the ACA protections regarding pre-existing conditions and covered benefits. It ends federal funding of retroactive Medicaid eligibility, a basic safety net feature that enables catastrophically ill people to be covered for a high-cost event occurring before they were covered. States would also be able to change the essential health benefits, impacting the ACA prohibition of annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

In an earlier column, I profiled a self-employed woman who had a premature baby and was left with $87,000 of debt because she was covered with a non-ACA-compliant insurance product grandfathered in when the ACA took effect.

The strategy we are currently working on to get her help is to use the retroactive coverage of her baby’s Medicaid. If Graham-Cassidy is passed, a family having a premature baby will once again face these same problems and the child would likely be uninsurable in the future, due to pre-existing conditions and because of reaching lifetime caps for coverage.

This bill primarily attacks Medicaid recipients and lower-income people. As I noted in a previous column, per capita expenditures for Medicaid are lower and have had a lower inflation rate than private insurance or Medicare over the past seven years. We are seeing an attempt to throw millions of poor people off their health-care coverage in order to fund tax cuts.

Graham-Cassidy is not health-care reform. It is time for real health-care reform that fixes our broken health-care system, which costs on average twice as much as the systems in other developed countries and is dead last in health-care outcomes.

Jerry Knirk is a freshman representative from Carroll County District 3: Tamworth, Madison, Freedom and Albany. He lives in Freedom.


Poof Tardiff: 1903 XI

Hello, fellow Berlinites. Father Kyle Stanton told me that the bells in St. Anne’s Church are the original bells of 1903 that I talked about in my last story. Thanks for the information, Father.
During the latter part of the fall of 1903, the newspaper reported that seven new brick blocks had been built in the booming city of Berlin during this year. Yes, this season in 1903 proved to be a record breaker for new brick buildings erected in downtown. The businesses were turning to brick instead of wood and felt much safer with these blocks in case of fire.
The new structures of brick that were completed during 1903 were as follows and named in the order in which they were begun: The Demers Block on School Street; the City National Bank (Holiday Center) on Post Office Square (Green Square); the parochial school on Emery Street; the Croteau Block (Albert Hotel) on Main Street opposite the Clement Opera House; and the Carnegie Library on Main Street, the Cote Block on Main Street and the Tucker Block next to the Cote Block.
Do any of these buildings still stand? I can be corrected if need be, but the St. Patrick’s School (parochial school), the Cote Block, the library, the Demers Block, corner of Willard and School Street and the City National Bank are the only buildings that still stand. Wouldn't we like to see this growth come to our fine city again?
A trolley accident on the evening of Nov. 7, 1903, came near to taking the life of Miss Flora Quivey. This middle-aged lady was walking down Glen Avenue, and, when she was near the last of the Glen cottages, she met a team coming up. In stepping out of the way of the team, she turned toward the trolley tracks. The 5 p.m. car for Gorham was coming down at the same time, and it was thought that Miss Quivey became bewildered in the uncertain dark. She ventured to hear the track and was struck by the car, which hurled her some distance. This badly lacerated her face and head and generally bruised her.
Flora was picked up and brought back to Post Office Square on the car and treated by Dr. Pulsifer, who dressed her wounds. One of her ears was badly torn and needed several stitches.
Had Miss Quivey been one step nearer the track, she would in all likelihood have met with a horrible death, but the injured lady did recover. One must remember that in 1903, the trolley system was brand new and older residents seemed to forget about these huge cars coming down the street. I am sure it was the same situation when the automobile came along.
A Dec. 10, 1903 issue of the local paper announced that the school system of Berlin was going to have its first superintendent. The article said that the city of Berlin was to be congratulated on the fact that it had taken a decided advance in regards to her public schools, by voting to inaugurate the system of expert superintendency.
It was further believed that Berlin was to be complimented on having secured so strong and able a man to assume the duties of this position as George H. Whitcher of the Alton, Durham and Newmarket supervisory district.
Mr. Whitcher was considered a hard worker, a conservative thinker and a practical executive. Much of his work had been under the conditions similar to those which he was to encounter here in the Paper City.
It was not expected that there would be any radical upheaval in the Berlin school system, as the best and most thorough improvements came only months and even years after patient work, with results in many cases scarcely observable except by those most closely connected with the school system.
The mobility of our population in 1903 and the rapid growth of our city involved problems that called for careful study and still more execution. These problems were the duty of a superintendent to contend with, and he would reach a higher plane of work than could be expected by the school board.
The school board was necessarily composed of men with business and professional cares of their own to attend to. They could, at the most, carry the matter of the schools only as a side issue, thus a superintendent was hired.
It was said that Berlin was taking a progressive step and indicated for the new regime the cooperation of teacher, parents and pupils in bringing our schools to the highest possible standards. Mr. Whitcher, who did a lot for the school system in Berlin, left us in 1914 for another assignment.
The saga of mill accidents continued to be put in the newspapers, and the Dec. 3, 1903, headlines read: “Chapter of Accidents."Joseph Collier, a workman employed at the Berlin Mills Company, met with an accident on Thanksgiving Day which not only cost him the use of an arm, but resulted in the loss of his eyesight as well.
As the construction was going on building the Cascade Mill, Mr. Collier had drilled a hole and put in a dynamite cartridge to prepare for a blast. He was then told that the blast was not necessary and attempted to remove the cartridge. The cap came off and he tried to pry it out with a drill. There was a sudden explosion and Collier received the full force of the discharge in his face, also shattering his right hand.
This poor man ended up with only one arm and lost his eyesight. What did he do after this horrible accident upon recovering from his wounds?
Another accident at the Burgess Sulphite Fibre Company almost cost Willie Halle a loss of one eye. While they were rolling logs, his companion’s iron hook slipped and the point caught young Hallie in the face. He was put on a train for Quebec for further medical treatment.
Another injury occurred during a fight between two men at the Berlin Mills Company woods camp at Bowman. John Henry proceeded to settle a dispute by hitting his companion over the eye with a heavy iron poker, which was laying close by. The hard blow resulted in serious trauma, and the injured man was in the serious condition. Henry was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, and a court date was set.
I am sure that there must have been some serious fights among woodsmen in the early days, especially if there was liquor involved. Remember that these were very capable men.
I will continue with the year 1903 in my next writing.
Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Sun. Questions or comments can be sent to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.
Witcher GeorgeGeorge Witcher
Early Glen AvenueEarly Glen Avenue
Croteau BlockCroteau Block
Cascade Mill siteCascade Mill site

Voices in the wilderness: Are reasonable people an endangered species?

By David Boucher
Throughout history there have been many bright periods in human endeavor and reasoning: The Age Of Enlightenment, The Renaissance and The Age of Reason, to name but a few. All resulted in the substantial increases in basic understanding of just who the heck we were and why we were here. Advancements in various disciplines such as science, natural law and the increasing availability of information took mankind on a discovery of alternative pathways that took the world and civil societies into new and promising directions. For the first times in human history, the “individual” could break the bonds of ignorance and repression. Through the formidable task of becoming educated or at least reliably informed, the ability and the freedom to “think” shattered many of the boundaries that usually kept people in servitude or despair.
We currently live in a world where everyone has the ability to become well educated, but we are at a perplexing crossroads where many choose or are incentivized not to be. Our complex times burden us with limitless entertainment and endlessly titillating and dubious information resources. Additionally and all too willingly, we burden ourselves and others with an inordinate fascination with our own overly shared personal lives. Modern life is completely suffused with the reality series that often starts on television and when one hybridizes these mediums with the Internet reality become virtually indistinguishable and more than a little entangled and at great costs to our own lives.
The Greeks gave the world modern logic, a set of democratic ideals and attempted to create communication systems using the “Socratic Method” that would enable all of us to have a universally accepted and reproducible formula to form, to evolve, and to resolve the important concepts that we could come to understand conceptually as the “Truth." If one could learn to reason in the pursuit of truth, one could then combine one truth with other truths and begin to formulate more complex hypotheses and underlying theorems that inevitably enabled and propelled man forward.
The early “prophets” of natural law such as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato understood the power of an indisputable fact/truth and the efficacy of a rational and reasonable argument. A fact is a fact because it cannot be turned into just any construct to blindly support an uninformed or baseless opinion, or in our modern vernacular, the concept of “fake news." An argument based in logic had merit because it was capable of illuminating the complexities inherent in ever increasing knowledge and evolving societies and lending itself to the ability to solve everyday problems.
Sadly, it was not long before another body of individuals thought that the “Socratics” were getting a little too big for their britches and they evolved a means of countering rationality with a discipline that came to be known as “Sophistry." Sophistry is a disreputable derivation of the early disciplines related to formal argumentation and it regrettably survived and indeed thrived in opposition to reason becoming a staple and a favorite of politics and politicians at every level because if one could sway the uninformed and the uneducated then one could readily wield power. Briefly, Sophistry is best defined as: “Reasoning that seems plausible on a superficial level but is demonstrably unsound or contains bits of reason that are calculated to deceive”.
So, there in a nutshell is the place that all people find themselves in today. Socrates died in 399 BC, and, though nearly 2,500 years have passed since his death, mankind seems to have largely lost and discarded the increasingly elusive threads of the only thing that can save us as a species: Truth and the ability to reason in a forum that is diverse, inclusive and derived from a place of integrity.
This used to be a crucial human value; it was considered a desirable and a core normative social construct and only in recent history have we seen these values virtually coopted and thoroughly eroded. The pace of technological change has exponentially blown through the warning signs in the related ethical considerations of our use of these technologies. The planet is finally and demonstrably finite, but our human appetites seem to just grow and grow. People actually laugh at the concepts that have their seeds in the need to be sustainable yet, somehow not realizing that very few of us will get to go to Mars if we irrevocably wreak this world. Some thousands may inevitably pioneer other worlds. That just leaves some likely seven to eight billion of us with a really implacable problem if we don’t get a handle on facts, logic, reason and truth as it applies to the human condition.
Consequently and quite regrettably, we have all but stopped teaching the Socratic method in schools except at very advanced levels. As a society we seem to be content to share and promulgate information regardless of its source with little regard for the rigor or integrity involved in elucidating that information. Data becomes fact, morphs into unsubstantiated opinion and is endlessly debated in an increasingly Hunger Games like arena that has become “Infotainment”. This futile endeavor entertains and galvanizes everyone’s emotions across the most radical and implausible spectrums.
We have become willing and complicit hostages to aberrant and absurd behaviors with resultantly deadly consequences for all too many powerless and mostly innocent people. The end result is the ultimate diminishment of the very few truths that yet might yield solutions to mankind’s many challenges and increasingly intractable problems. I suspect that I am hardly alone in my perceived impotency at overturning this overwhelming set of obstacles to reason. I write to my valued community members on the chance that many of you feel and sense the same challenges. We still have a functioning planet, we care about the future of our children, and though Democracy is hanging by a thread, it is still conceptually intact.
The power of the humble and actively informed individual is the only force that can stand against the tyranny of power, ignorance and fear mongering. It matters little that we might disagree about anything and everything. What matters is how we choose to disagree. What matters, is that we engage in the arena of ideas and that we come together and tell each other the truths of our lives. Ultimately, It is the choice of reason; otherwise, the Sophist armed with ever increasing technologies will mold and obviate our opinions until we will eventually become incapable of advocating effectively for our individual as well as collective interests.

Distant Dome: A tale of two New Hampshires

By Garry Rayno
Distant Dome

New Hampshire’s thriving businesses and nearly negligible unemployment rate reflect a growing economy constrained only by an aging workforce and a limited number of skilled workers entering the system.

But a drive along the back roads of New Hampshire’s rural areas from the North Country to the state’s southwest shows another Granite State, with families caught in the cycle of poverty, workers stuck in low-paying jobs with little room for advancement, opioid addiction and alcoholism eating at society’s fabric and little state help to change it.

The manufacturing sector that once fueled the economies of small cities and towns has been gone for years, leaving no economic ladder to climb for those who remain.

A recent report reinforces what has been known for some time: New Hampshire is two states, not one.

Much of the economic activity that makes up the state’s economy is in four counties: Rockingham, Hillsborough, Strafford and Merrimack. The rest of the state has not recovered from the great recession with few if any new jobs added in the past five or six years.

Places like Portsmouth with more than 100 restaurants, shops, hotels, historic places and its creative community draws boatloads of tourists. Manchester’s Millyard hosts high tech firms with young workers looking for things to do, while Concord has revitalized its Main Street.

Then there are Franklin, Newport and Claremont whose once glorious pasts as centers of economic activity now seem hollow reminders of what their communities used to be.

Young people who cannot find work are fleeing rural Coos, Grafton, Carroll and Sullivan counties as well as workers who have to travel hours to earn a paycheck and many more miles to a hospital that will deliver a newborn child.

However bleak the future may be for those in rural communities, it is as bright for those in southeastern New Hampshire.

The private sector, responsible for 90 percent of production and employment in the Granite State, sold $3.4 billion more goods and services to state residents, fellow Americans and foreigners from 2015 to 2016, according to Greg Bird, N.H. Center for Public Policies Studies’ economist, increasing wages by $1.3 billion.

“The transactions that comprise the New Hampshire economy are disproportionately occurring in the southeastern section of our state,” Bird writes in the report. “Consequently, the positive economic trends outlined above are isolated in a few corners of New Hampshire.”

The vast majority of newly created jobs and wages paid have been in the urban areas, and where people are moving the past few years.

Bird said while the more populous urban areas would be expected to see more growth, it is far greater than anticipated.

He notes Rockingham County accounts for 23 percent of the state’s population, but was responsible for 40 percent of job growth and population gains in the Granite State.

While the job growth is impressive, there are some troubling signs. The private sector job growth has been in health care, construction, restaurants and white-color office businesses.

Three of the top eight industries with job growth are in the health care sector which could be significantly impacted by potential changes in the Affordable Care Act coming from Washington.

Also, many of the new jobs pay wages below the state average, making it difficult for many to live in the communities where they work.

With the job growth centered in the four southeastern counties, the other six are being left behind.

Places like Berlin and Groveton had their lifelines cut when the paper mills closed, and nothing has replaced the lost jobs except prison work in Berlin.

The six counties do have sweet spots such as Conway or the towns around Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Sunapee, Hanover and Lebanon, and other college towns like Plymouth and Keene, but not far away, the dismal backroads are a very different story.

It should surprise no one Donald Trump won the New Hampshire Presidential Primary in a landslide while Bernie Sanders did the same on the Democratic side.

The two politicians may come from different sides of the political spectrum, but they both spoke of the economic dislocation of people who once were the backbone of America, but are now alienated, angry and most importantly left behind and forgotten.

Many people in rural areas are hurting, and much of Concord’s focus the past few years has done nothing to address that.

The one thing that could make a significant difference is more accessible higher educational opportunities, but lawmakers have been slow to restore state aid to pre-recession levels.

The fiscal 2012-13 state operations budget approved by the 2011 Legislature slashed state aid in half to the university and community college systems, sending tuition rates higher and higher in the state with the highest student debt in the country. Not only do New Hampshire college students have the highest debt, New Hampshire contributes the least of any state to help its students pay for higher education.

New Hampshire is one of nine states where tuition revenues are double state funding for higher education, according to a report published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The university and community college systems received a combined $394.5 million in tuition from students while state aid to the systems was $132.6 million.

For fiscal year 2011, the university system received $100 million in state aid, but only $51.6 million in 2012. For the current 2018 fiscal year budget, the system will receive $81 million.

New Hampshire higher education tuition increased 39.4 percent from 2007 to 2017, the fourth highest increase for four-year institutions in the country. The increase translates into a $4,424 increase compared to a national average of $2,484.

The community college system received $37.6 million in state aid in fiscal 2011, and that dropped to $23.6 million in 2012. In fiscal 2018, state aid is $46.5 million.

While state aid to higher education lags, lawmakers decided to cut the rates of the business enterprise and business profits taxes which together are the single biggest source of revenue for the state.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute notes those tax reductions may in the future make it more difficult to increase state aid for higher education.

“The increased risk of reduced revenue from these rate changes, as well as a proposed 18 percent reduction in federal Pell Grant aid, the primary source of grant aid, should alert policymakers to potential future challenges students and families may face when paying for higher education in the state and the subsequent consequences for New Hampshire’s workforce and economy,” the report read.

“Given New Hampshire’s workforce constraints and demographic trends, the state’s public institutions of higher education can be key resources for bolstering the economy and productivity.”

The question is will a more robust higher education system help the entire state, not just the southeastern corner?

Not right away, but it would be a start.

Lawmakers have several bills to boost workforce programs they will have to act on the first month of the 2018 session that will indicate what approach this lLegislature will follow.

Garry Rayno can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.