Poof Tardiff: A Town of Today VIII

Hello fellow Berlinites. If you have saved these last seven stories about the town of Berlin, you would have an outstanding history of what Berlin looked like before it became a city. Now to finish this great chronicle that was written over 120 years ago.

According to the census of 1890, Berlin had about 3,500 inhabitants; by a census taken in the spring of 1895, five years later, that number had swelled to 6,000. This now made it the largest town in the state.

Berlin's streets and stores and many of its houses were lighted by electricity. This was furnished by the Berlin Electric Light Company, whose plant was situated in the mills of the Berlin Falls Fiber Company. The president of this company was W. H. Furbish whose first name was Willard (Willard Street). H. H. Furbish was the treasurer and general manager. This electric light company was an old institution and Berlin was one of the first places in the state where electricity was introduced. Gas had never been used here for illuminating purposes and it was highly probable that it would ever be introduced for that intent.

Water was furnished by several companies of which the largest was the Berlin Aqueduct Company. This system was installed in 1892 at a very heavy cost. The reason being that the soil of this town is solid rock and more than 30 tons of dynamite were used in blasting out the trenches for the pipes.

The main supply back then was a reservoir on Bean Brook in the hills about one mile east of the Androscoggin River. A pumping station above Berlin Mills also furnished an auxiliary supply of filtered river water.

This company furnished about 900 families with water and also supplied the town hydrants of which there were forty-six back then. It also equipped the mills with automatic sprinkler systems for fire protection.

The Green Aqueduct Company also supplied excellent water to a considerable number of families in the center of town, while the Cold Spring Water Company performed the same service for a number of houses on the newly developed East Side.

Protection against fire was furnished by three very efficient hose companies, as the high pressure of the aqueduct companies made the possession of steamers unnecessary at this time. There had been no serious fires in Berlin since the introduction of the water service, but the Glen Manufacturing Company and the Berlin Mills Company each had a steam fire engine of their own, with complete firefighting equipment and a thoroughly drilled fire department. The other mills were also supplied with hydrants connected with the aqueduct company system

At the same time that the waterworks were installed, a complete sewer system was constructed by the town. This resulted in a gain in the general health of the community.

Berlin was also well supplied with social and fraternal organizations, among them being a Lodge of the Free Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Independent Order of Foresters, Society of St. John the Baptist, Catholic Order of Foresters and the Brotherhood of Papermakers.

The old name of the town had been retained in the Maynesboro Club, which had convenient rooms in the National Bank block. These rooms were equipped with billiard and pool tables and furnished with a good selection of newspapers and periodicals. This club was a very import factor in the social life of the town.

We also had two opera houses in Berlin back then. One was the Whitney Opera House on Mechanic Street and the other was the Clement Opera House, in the Clement Block, where today's Badger Realty now operates. The Clement was a handsome hall with a seating capacity for 1,500 people and was one of the largest and best appointed opera houses north of Boston.

Berlin also had two outdoor ice rinks and in the summer it supported a baseball nine which boasted of being champions of the North Country. It was also at the “gateway” to one the greatest hunting and fishing grounds in the East, with deer, rabbits and partridge being plentiful. Trout and pickerel were also abundant, even within the limits of town. Every man in this part of the country back then was a fisherman and in the summer there was a continual stream of fishing parties making tracks for their favorite camping spots “up river”.

This town had an excellent public library founded in 1893 and very largely reinforced by a gift of the entire Berlin Mills library. The library had rooms in the Clement Block, where there were also the police court and town offices.

The banks of this town, of which there were two, played a very important factor in its progress. They were the Berlin Savings Bank and Trust Company of which A.M. Stahl was president in J. S. Phipps was treasurer and the Berlin National Bank, of which A. R. Evans was president and A. H. Eastman was cashier.

Both banks had been very conservatively managed and extremely successful. It was reported that $175 a share had been refused for stock in 1896 at the Savings Bank, while the National Bank boasted that it had never lost a dollar on a note.

A description of Berlin back then would be incomplete without mention of the natural beauty of its surrounding area. Berlin lies in a valley, hemmed in on all sides by mountains with three outlets. These are up the Androscoggin, down the same river and up the Dead River valley to the height of land, where the headwaters of the Upper Ammonoosuc begin.

From the heights, Prospect, Spring Street etc., as this upper part of town was called, is obtained a fine view all of Mount Washington, Madison and Adams. Also, a magnificent view is obtained from the summit of Mount Forist, while the outlook from Cates Hill, in back of town, can hardly be surpassed by anywhere in the White Mountain region.

Starr King spoke of the view from the Thompson Farm, where the Brown Company barn is today, as showing better the characteristics of the three great mountains Madison, Washington, and Adams than any view elsewhere obtainable.

Berlin Falls, before the Glen Mills were built, were one of the great features of the scenery of this region and they were spoken of in terms of the highest admiration by Starr King. The Alpine Cascade is a cataract of great beauty and was visited in the summer months by large numbers of sightseers. Today (2016), many people still visit these falls with side-by-sides and four wheelers.

To tell about all of the features of Berlin's scenery and to describe everything worthy of note in her various departments of activity, would be an almost endless task. All that Berlin asked back then was that those who doubted what was written of it, should have come and seen for themselves. It had good hotels, comfortable homes and its latch string was always out.

I hope that the short history of earlier Berlin before it became a city in 1897, shows people how this place became a boom town that attracted immigrants from all countries demonstrating how industrialized we once were.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly for The Berlin Daily Sun. 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 guess at the posted mystery pictures.

Clement Opera House 1Clement Opera House

Berlin National BankBerlin National Bank

Berlin Hose Company 1890Berlin Hose Company 1890

Berlin mid 1890sBerlin mid 1890s

Ithaca Bound: Visiting 2017

Whenever we awaken from whatever partying we may do New Year’s Eve, it will be the first day of the new year - 2017. For the first time in memory, it is hard to be enthusiastic about the continued growth of this country in the coming year.
Twenty days into the new year, the presidency of our country will be taken over by a man I totally distrust, a man who, in my opinion, has not shown himself to be worthy of trust. My research into who Donald Trump reveals a man who really wants to be a dictator - and has said as much. The choices he has already made for cabinet and aides are frightening: an avowed racist, a climate change denier, an anti-environmentalist, a fossil fuel advocate, and so on. Trump, who is anti-science, may well eave this country far behind the rest of the world in terms of scientific advancement by the time his time in office is ended. (And don’t forget, Trump threatened to challenge the legality of this past election’s vote if he had lost. Who knows what he may try to do when his time in office is officially over.) I blame the foolishness of having an Electoral College have the final say as to who actually becomes president. (More on that in a later column.)
And his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former head of the notorious KGB, should concern us all.
Enough of the downside. Time to look at the positives. The New England spots fan has much to look forward to. If you are a football fan, the Patriots are well positioned to add another Super Bowl victory to their already impressive list achieved over the past fifteen years.
The Red Sox should once again make their league’s playoffs, and possibly contend for a World Series ring. Both the Bruins and the Celtics should be contenders in their respective league’s playoffs, although neither looks to be good enough to go very far.
The local high school teams tend to do well each year, with Berlin’s hockey teams - Ice and field - frequently contending for state honors. It would be nice to hear more about what’s happening in the areas of art and music.
More next time.

Ithaca Bound writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Ithaca Bound is the pen name of Dick Conway. His email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Poof Tardiff: A Town of Today VII

Hello fellow Berlinites. By the middle of the 1890's, Berlin had four major mills that used all our natural resources in the North Country. These resources have been previously mentioned as the Androscoggin River and the great forest nearby. The mills were the Berlin Mills Company, which had a great sawmill and the Riverside paper mills, the Burgess Sulphite Fibre Company, the Berlin Falls Fibre company and the six mills of the Glen Manufacturing Company.

These four large companies had developed, by their dams on the Androscoggin River, almost 30,000 horsepower and a few if any of their privileges in use were yet developed to their full capacity. There were at this time, a considerable number of magnificent powers as yet entirely unused.

Now, in addition to these four large corporations, the town of Berlin wanted to also diversify, so they also had a number of small manufacturing concerns that used some kind of wood products. One of these, was the Berlin Manufacturing Company, whose mill was considered a large plant in almost any other place in New Hampshire other than Berlin.

They owned a valuable site, nearly opposite and on the other side of the tracks of the Grand Trunk Station (today's Tri-County-Cap). It was an extremely well-equipped and convenient mill, in which they manufactured spruce, pine, and hardwood lumber of all descriptions. They also did a general jobbing in the house finishing business. The power for the company was furnished entirely by steam and A. N. Gilbert was the treasurer and general manager.

Another was the Business Supply Company that had a mill in which they manufactured all kinds of house finishing material, doors, sashes, hardwood flooring etc. The power for this mill was furnished from a Dead River privilege, which also operated a grist mill.

Mr. Ezra Cross, the founder of the Cross Machine Company, after being on Mechanic Street for some time, moved in 1895 down below Glen Mill Number One. It was here that he built two large and convenient buildings in which he carried on his foundry and machine shop business. He made castings in all the common metals and did a general jobbing business. Mr. Cross employed about 20 men, all necessarily skilled workmen earning good wages for these days.

The criticism back then was often made back then that the mills of Berlin gave employment practically to none, but able bodied men and that there was no opportunity given for the woman and younger people of the laboring families to add to the family resources. This could be done in other places, where the forms of labor were more varied. By 1895, this problem was solved in large measure by the erection of the Berlin Shoe Factory

The Chamber of Commerce was established on April 28, 1894 on a report of a committee consisting all of H. I. Goss, C. C. Gerrish, Dr. H. W. Johnson, H. C. Rowell and A. B. Forbush. A constitution and by laws for the Berlin Board of Trade was adopted by 10 businessmen and their officers were H. I. Goss, president; J. M. Lavin, treasurer and J. H. Wight, clerk. This board of trade had an active life under its first president and his successors W. H. Gerrish and L. J. Cote. It was largely responsible for bringing Chick Brothers ( Berlin Shoe Factory) of Haverhill, Massachusetts to this town.

The money for this huge building was paid for in part by popular subscription and in part by the use of the credit of the town. This huge building stood for at least 25 years in the same spot as the skating rink near today's police headquarters, before being torn down.

This factory was leased to the Chick Brothers of Haverhill, Massachusetts, one of the largest shoe companies in New England. This was done by the town of Berlin on a guarantee that they would do a certain amount of business here for a fixed amount of years.

This immense building was just above the Berlin Manufacturing Company's mill on the Grand Trunk siding and just before today's Green Street underpass. It was 200' x 50' on the ground and five stories above the basement, with a large tower in front. In the rear, there was a large brick powerhouse.

It was built on the best principles of first-class building construction, equipped with standard pipes and an automatic sprinkler system and lighted throughout with the electricity furnished by its own dynamo. The building was built to accommodate about 1,000 employees and it was thought that before the summer of 1896, it would be running to very near its full capacity.

Shoe shops were generally considered rather risky ventures for small towns, but Berlin's people felt that this institution was going to be a permanent business here. That confidence was not based only on the character and business standing of the lessees, but also on the fact that strange as it may have seemed, Berlin offered peculiar advantages for the transaction of this particular business.

Help of this kind was abundant and anxious for an opportunity to work back then. Also, fuel was cheaper, wood being abundant and coal had cost less in Berlin then in Concord in these days. The freight rates from Berlin to the West were also lower than from Haverhill and it was from the West that that Chick Brothers had obtained the greater part of their raw materials. It was also to this area that they shipped most of their finished products.

This company conducted a prosperous business for several years and employed hundreds of local citizens, but as mentioned, their business was in the West and the establishment of the Western factories obliged them to close this factory. Like our old Converse Shoe Company building, the city of Berlin tried to get other businesses to operate in this huge building, but failed.

On the first day of September, 1896, the town of Berlin had been organized 67 years. At the regular town meeting in March of 1830, there were about 15 voters. These represented but seven families. In November of 1896, there were 1,008 voters on the checklist, representing nearly 7,000 inhabitants. The system of government had now become not maintainable any longer and it was time to change.

While conditions changed, it was the fancy of those who lived in cities to look down upon those who lived in villages, it was remembered that the cities that were most fortunate were those that grew up from hamlets.

Memories lingered of times when men got together to solve their political problems and every voter knew every office holder. Berlin had such a growth.

So much for the Mills of Berlin, to them the town was mainly indebted for what it became. I will continue and finish with “A Town of Today” in my next writing.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.

Gilbert A NA. N. Gilbert

Early Cross MachineEarly Cross Machine

Chick Shoe 1896Chick Shoe 1896

Berlin Manufacturing 1896Berlin Manufacturing 1896

The Quiet War on Medicaid

By GENE B. SPERLING
New York Times

Progressives have already homed in on Republican efforts to privatize Medicare as one of the major domestic political battles of 2017. If Donald J. Trump decides to gut the basic guarantee of Medicare and revamp its structure so that it hurts older and sicker people, Democrats must and will push back hard. But if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid — one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families and people with disabilities.
Of the two battles, the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain. Neither Mr. Trump nor Senate Republicans may have the stomach to fully own the political risks of Medicare privatization. But not only have Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Tom Price, Mr. Trump’s choice for secretary of health and human services, made proposals to deeply cut Medicaid through arbitrary block grants or “per capita caps,” during the campaign, Mr. Trump has also proposed block grants.
If Mr. Trump chooses to oppose his party’s Medicare proposals while pushing unprecedented cuts to older people and working families in other vital safety-net programs, it would play into what seems to be an emerging strategy of his: to publicly fight a few select or symbolic populist battles in order to mask an overall economic and fiscal strategy that showers benefits on the most well-off at the expense of tens of millions of Americans.
Without an intense focus by progressives on the widespread benefits of Medicaid and its efficiency, it will be too easy for Mr. Trump to market the false notion that Medicaid is a bloated, wasteful program and that such financing caps are means simply to give states more flexibility while “slowing growth.” Medicaid’s actual spending per beneficiary has, on average, grown about 3 percentage points less each year than it has for those with private health insurance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — a long-term trend that is projected to continue. The arbitrary spending caps proposed by Mr. Price and Mr. Ryan would cut Medicaid to the bone, leaving no alternative for states but to impose harsh cuts in benefits and coverage.
Continue reading the main story
Mr. Price’s own proposal, which he presented as the chairman of the House budget committee, would cut Medicaid by about $1 trillion over the next decade. This is on top of the reduction that would result from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which both Mr. Trump and Republican leaders have championed. Together, full repeal and block granting would cut Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program funding by about $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years — a 40 percent cut.
Tom Price, President-elect Trump’s choice for secretary of health and human services, has made proposals to deeply cut Medicaid.
Even without counting the repeal of the A.C.A. coverage expansion, the Price plan would cut remaining federal Medicaid spending by $169 billion — or one-third — by the 10th year of his proposal, with the reductions growing more severe thereafter. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that a similar Medicaid block grant proposed by Mr. Ryan in 2012 would lead to 14 million to 21 million Americans’ losing their Medicaid coverage by the 10th year, and that is on top of the 13 million who would lose Medicaid or children’s insurance program coverage under an A.C.A. repeal.
The emerging Republican plan to “repeal, delay and replace” the A.C.A. seeks to further camouflage these harmful cuts. Current Republican plans to eliminate the marketplace subsidies and A.C.A. Medicaid expansion in 2019 would create a health care cliff where all of the Medicaid funds and subsidies for the A.C.A. expansion would simply disappear and 30 million people would lose their health care.
In the face of such a manufactured crisis, the Trump administration could cynically claim to be increasing Medicaid funding by offering governors a small fraction of the existing A.C.A. expansion back as part of a block grant. No one should be deceived. Maintaining a small fraction of the current Medicaid expansion within a tightly constrained block grant is not an increase.
Some might whisper that these cuts would be harder to beat back because their impact would fall on those with the least political power. Sweeping cuts to Medicaid would hurt tens of millions of low-income and middle-income families who had a family member with a disability or were in need of nursing home care. About 60 percent of the costs of traditional Medicaid come from providing nursing home care and other types of care for the elderly and those with disabilities.
While Republicans resist characterizations of their block grant or cap proposals as tearing away health benefits from children, older people in nursing homes or middle-class families heroically coping with children with serious disabilities, the tyranny of the math does not allow for any other conclusion. If one tried to cut off all 30 million poor kids now enrolled in Medicaid, it would save 19 percent of the program’s spending. Among the Medicaid programs at greatest risk would be those optional state programs that seek to help middle-income families who become “medically needy” because of the costs of having a child with a serious disability like autism or Down syndrome.
Democrats at all levels of government must aggressively communicate the degree to which these anodyne-sounding proposals would lead to an assault on health care for those in nursing homes and for working families straining to deal with a serious disability, as well as for the poorest Americans. With many Republican governors and local hospitals also likely to be victimized by the proposals of Mr. Ryan and Mr. Price, this fight can be both morally right and politically powerful. Republicans hold only a slight majority in the Senate. It would take only three Republican senators thinking twice about the wisdom of block grants and per capita caps to put a halt to the coming war on Medicaid.

Gene B. Sperling was director of the National Economic Council from 1996 to 2001 and from 2011 until 2014.

Poof Tardiff: A Town of Today VI

Hello fellow Berlinites. As I near the end of my stories about the early days of Berlin up to 1896, I will continue with the Burgess Sulphite Fiber company.

Their freight bills back in 1896 on outgoing products amounted to over $100,000 annually, of which it was interesting to note that about one half was paid on Androscoggin water that was contained in the pulp. Fifty thousand dollars a year was a good deal to pay for freight on water that nobody had any use for, but the proportion of water to solid matter was even larger in other kinds of pulp. The Burgess Mills had a noticeable feature and that was the originality shown in both process and mechanical appliances. The use of labor was dispensed with wherever possible.

Wood was unloaded from the cars on to an automatic conveyor which took it directly to a tank that was as large as a small pond, where it was soaked. From the tank it was taken out and the bark removed on revolving knives. It then went by a way of another conveyor to a machine in which it was cut up into chips.

These chips, in turn, were automatically carried to a sector in which the sawdust and the larger pieces were sorted out from those which were the correct size. The large pieces were carried to the boiler room for use as fuel, while the right size chips were taken to the top of this mill and dumped into the digesters which were great vats in which the chips were cooked.

There were six of these digesters, each 14 feet in diameter and 35 feet high, when the mill was finished in 1893. One hundred and twenty three years ago they were the largest digesters in the world.

The substance with which these digesters were lined was the invention of Mr. T. P. Burgess, the general manager of this mill. He was also the inventor of other certain features of the process of manufacture and many labor saving gadgets.

The officers of this company were W. W. Brown, president; Aretas Blood, vice president; Theodore P. Burgess, treasurer and general manager; Frank Carpenter, Herbert Brown and O. B. Brown directors and George E. Burgess, superintendent. This company employed a large office force and were building some of the finest mill offices in the state of New Hampshire in 1896.

Another mill that was in operation by 1896 was the Glenn Manufacturing Company. This industry came to Berlin in 1885 and built on the original Berlin Falls, a mill, which the town voted to exempt from taxation for ten years.

It was certainly the best investment that the town had ever made, because this company steadily and rapidly increased its plant size and in 1896, they owned six large mills. These mills ran from today's Mason Street Bridge all the way down to where NAPA now operates. Back in the mid-1890s, they employed 400 men, with a weekly payroll of about $4,500. There were many men who also worked in the woods to supply this company with their product.

Their first paper machine was set running in the spring of 1886 and was named after Col. C.H. Taylor, of the Boston Globe. In 1887 they made an addition to their original mill, giving them three paper machines.

In this same year, they bought a mill which had been operating for a short time. This mill was called the White Mountain Pulp and Paper Company and was situated where the Dead River enters the Androscoggin. They incorporated their mill number five from this early mill. Number three mill was built in 1889, one machine was added to number one in 1890 and number four was built in 1891. In 1892 number five was constructed and in 1893 number six, the sulphite mill was created.

120 years ago, the Glenn Manufacturing Company had a complete plant that ran along the east side of Main Street in back of today's City Hall to Glen Avenue. They manufactured everything that went into paper, the sulphite took the place of rags, of which, it was formally necessary to use a smaller quantity in order to give the paper it's requisite toughness.

By 1896, they were manufacturing 35 tons of sulphite pulp and 80 tons of ground wood pulp daily. From this, they made 65 tons of paper in Berlin and the rest was shipped to their mills in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where 50 tons of paper was made daily.

This company ground up annually about thirty million feet of spruce logs. They owned about 100,000 acres of timberland and contracted for cutting their timber. Their facilities for obtaining the raw material were unequaled by any other large paper mills in this country and for this reason they were able to manufacture at an advantage over those less favorably situated. Even with out the Cascade Mill that had not been built yet, there were mills from today's Heritage Park all the way down the Androscoggin River through Berlin.

The Glen Mills also had three dams which developed twelve thousand horsepower. They had 36 pulp grinders and five paper machines. The process of manufacture in its first steps resembled the sulphite process, up to the point at which in the latter the wood was cut into chips.

In the mechanical process, the blocks of wood, from which the bark was removed, were ground up under a heavy water pressure on large grinders, stones like ordinary grindstone, but about five feet in diameter and two feet in thickness. I know that there is one of these grindstones that sits near the entry of the Public Service (Eversource) Park as one enters from the Tondreau parking lot today (2016).

The pulp then underwent various processes by which a considerable part of the water was removed and it was then rolled out into thick sheets for transportation.

This pulp that was soaked in water and mixed with a sulphite pulp, was then passed through the paper machine in which the moist pulp, passing over felts and screens and between warm cylinders, over various appliances for drying out water, came out the other end in the form of a wide sheet of white paper.

It was 10 feet wide on the largest machine in the Glen Mills. This was then wound up in a great role ready for the printing press, at the rate of about 300 feet per minute.

The Glen paper machines during the mid-1890s turned out over 60,000 square feet of newspaper every minute and ran day and night continuously 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In a little over two months, they made enough paper to and circle the earth around the equator about eight feet wide.

This mill had continuous contracts with the Boston Globe and the New York Tribune ever since their first mill was built and their paper was used in newspaper offices from Maine to Texas and even in the British Isles.

The officers of this original mill back then were John L. Hobson of Haverhill, Massachusetts president, H. M. Knowles of Boston, treasurer and I. B. Hosford, general manager, also of Haverhill.

I will continue with the rest of the industries that were operating in the town of Berlin during 1896, before Berlin became a city.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many friends of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.

Glen Manufacturing CompanyGlen Manufacturing Company

Glen Avenue 1896Glen Avenue 1896

Col. C. H. TaylorCol. C. H. Taylor

Brown O. BO.B. Brown