Londonderry’s Proud Grand Army of the Republic

Standing in the middle of the town common surround by a black iron fence is a monument we see every day.  It is Soldiers Monument erected in 1884, and it lists the names of those who served from Londonderry during the Civil War.

The Monument strikingly resembles many other Civil War memorials you see throughout the State and the Country.  The company that produced the monument wanted to keep costs down so communities could afford to purchase a memorial.  Making an easy to manufacture monument would accomplish that.  The monuments were all manufactured exactly the same.  Only difference was depending where you were from.  Your town could purchase one with a union solider or one with a confederate solider.

This picture was taken on the Londonderry Common in front of Soldiers Monument. The Grand Army of the Republic

The Civil War started in 1861 and ended in 1865.  During the four years this war was fought; an estimated 620,000 soldiers died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease.

This week one hundred and fifty years ago a horrific battle took place in the small town of Gettysburg, PA.   The fighting lasted for 3 days from July 1, through July 3rd.  Between 46,000 and 51,00o soldiers from both armies were casualties.  The retreat of the South took place on July 4th and the wagon train, heading to Virgina, carrying the wounded was 17 miles long.

New Hampshire sons played a vital role in the Civil War and many of our young men’s lives were lost.  The State of New Hampshire sent over 33,000 men to the Union Army.  Over 900 fought at Gettysburg, suffering 368 casualties. There are five monuments found on the soil of Gettysburg honoring New Hampshire units who fought in the battle. Three infantry regiments, an artillery battery, and three companies of sharpshooters.

The Units that served were the 5th New Hampshire under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Hapgood of Amherst.  The 5th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment suffered the most battle deaths of any Union regiment in the Civil War, with 295 men killed in action. The 12th New Hampshire was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Captain John F. Langley, a machinist from Manchester. The regiment had lost all its field officers in heavy fighting at Chancellorsville in May.  The New Hampshire Mountaineers fought for nearly three years in the Armies of the Potomac and the James.  Of its original number over 50 per cent had been lost in Chancellorsville and Cold Harbor.  The Unit marched to Gettysburg on the night of the July 1st, fought on the 2nd, and supported the center against Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd. Company E, 1st U.S. Sharpshooters and Companies F & G, 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters also were part of the battle in Gettysburg.  The 1st brought 371 men to the field and the 2nd brought 204.  During the fighting both units lost a total of 11 killed, 60 wounded and 21 missing.  The final Unit was the First New Hampshire Battery Light Artillery.  Captain Frederick M. Edgell of Manchester was in command and it entered the battle with 111 men.

This battle change the tide of the Civil War and brought and end to this bloody war when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1985. Word of the surrender took time to reach all of the fighting units, and the last battle was fought at Palmito Ranch, Texas, on May 13, 1865.

Later President Lincoln would honor those that had fallen at Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Address – Abraham Lincoln

November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

When the Civil War ended many soldiers returned to New Hampshire looking for jobs; most headed west.  The Grange, a fraternal organization which encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture was founded after the Civil War in 1867.  The oldest American agricultural advocacy group, Grange 44 stands across the road from the common today.

Londonderry has a proud and rich history of serving this great country in a time of War.  If you get a chance today, stop by the Town Common and read the names on all the monuments representing all those that served.

Read about Colonel William Pillsbury.  Who severed with honor representing the State of New Hampshire and Londonderry.

William Pillsbury:  The Man Who Made Broadway


Town Common Clean Up for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day Junior Girl Scout troop 12328 cleaned up the Londonderry Town Common as a community service activity in honor of Earth Day.  Members of the troop are made up of girls in 4th and 5th grade at Matthew Thornton.


Honoring Veterans on Veterans Day.

Celebrated each Veterans Day by American Legion Post 27 the annual parade will take place on Saturday, Nov 10, at 10:00 am on the Londonderry Town Common.

Invited to march have been emergency personnel, Boy and Girl Scout Troops and the Lancer Marching Band will also participate in the Parade.

Each November 11, Americans take time to thank the brave men and women who have battled and sacrificed for our freedom and rights. Schools close, government buildings fly the American flag with pride, and foot soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen receive many thanks and praises. But the holiday wasn’t originally created to commemorate all soldiers of all wars.

Nearly 100 years ago, World War I, also known as “The Great War”, ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting had already ceased seven months prior to the treaty. An armistice, or a temporary cessation of hostilities, between Allied Nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This became the reason why November 11, 1918 became the end of the “war to end all wars.”

In November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day by speaking these words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”


Gathering in Londonderry Common Areas Today

Londonderry Hometown Online News requested an analysis of the pond vs. wetland as we reached 1000 participants in our self selecting survey.  Read “Ponds are for people, Wetlands are for people” by Conservation Commission member and open space task force chairman Mike Speltz he wrote up a thoughtful piece.

Jack read it and provided his own response.

Starting with the premise that what is proposed is the base line, is not a good place to begin. The owners have rights to propose. The residents have rights to counter propose. A more logical, greatly scales back density, would allow our ecology to survive in very close to its present form. Just because the wholesale apple business has fallen upon tough times is no reason to pave over farmland. Other farms in Londonderry have found new crops and new markets. Let’s begin at the beginning not in the middle of a proposed pond.

Woodmont Commons with proposed pond on the left, community Gardens on the right

The last time I drove by our current town common no one was there. I’ve never in forty years seen anyone sitting there. It is a great common place for events several times each year, but to assume that people will all of a sudden sit around an artificial lake and therefore hundreds of homes should be packed in around it to make it so, should be questioned.

The dredged pond in Century Village has benches around it. Although I’ve walked around it and biked around it hundreds of times I’ve never seen anyone sitting on those benches.

Residents sit by their pool and look out on their pond and there is nothing wrong with that. Pond hockey is big for a week or two every other year till deep snow ends the season. Woodmont has a great little skating pond right on Gilcreast right now. It gets some use each year. A larger pond would be needed for three thousand new residents.

Let’s not put the pond before the housing density.

“Jack Falvey Et al:” provides a hometown analysis of Woodmont Commons. Since attending the design charrette offered by the developers of the project Jack has been asking questions, you too have been asking questions, many to Jack himself. He has provided thoughtful analysis from his point of view and shared it back to the questioner and a growing list of Londonderry residents wanting of more information.

As they become available we will provide these questions to our readers and the search engines. We hope to provide a broader view of the project through the eyes of someone that came to town in the 1960′s. Jack raised a family here, volunteered in local government and founded his company “Making the Numbers” after a career at Gillette.  As a motivational speaker and a prolific writer with major media outlets his views on the project may take you by surprise


Town Center, Londonderry Town Common

Now and forever?

Last months story “Where is Londonderry Town Center” 80% that took our Londonderry poll voted that it was the existing Londonderry Town Common.  Our most recent poll asked where will it be once Woodmont Commons is built.  The leader of DPZ Andres Duany said several times in the design charette that “the new town center will be in this village” that is just the way it works with planned village concepts, “we just don’t know exactly where it will be.”

Proposed Town Common at Woodmont, Londonderry, NHOur poll over the last week only 23% agree, it will be in the new city of Woodmont Commons.  The rest just continue to hold onto the tradition of our historic town common will remain at Mammoth and Pillsbury.  As community members gathered last weekend for Santa and the tree lighting, next weekend for the laying of the Blue Star mothers Wreath of Remembrance they feel forever, the place to gather is around the soldiers Monument and bandstand.

The Village of East Derry, click for a larger image

Londonderry town center was once in what today is East Derry around the First Parish church.  When the towns split a new meeting house was needed in the farmland of Londonderry sparking the construction of the Londonderry Presbyterian Church.  The civil war monument firmed up the place to gather just as photography was invented.  The bandstand drove the “center of town stake” further into the ground at the Bicentennial Old Home Day celebration.

Back in Derry as the industrial age arrived and rail came through town, for them the center of activities moved from East Derry to “Derry Depot” home of transportation, factories and workforce housing for those in the shoe industry.  While not “town center” it was the center of the action and a stop on the way to North Londonderry, Manchester and beyond.

Is it just a matter of time, will the unstoppable forces of commerce and development make the selection of “Town Center” for Londonderry?  Or will it be a selection made by those that live here?

When Woodmont Commons is built Where will Town Center be?

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Where is Londonderry Town Center?

Sparked by a Union Leader story a few weeks ago, a casual question, “where is town center?” Most in Londonderry have always considered it the Historic Londonderry Town Common, if not in practice at least by default.

Cradled by the town forest on two sides and fronted with the oldest churches in Londonderry plus the original town hall on the other it just makes sense. That is if you are from, or appreciate, New England Towns.

The town GIS department reports with it’s magic software that it is actually near the middle school. Of course the Geographical Information System is a program that crunches numbers and not the environmental and societal impact of a town. Three people in our poll agree with the computer.

Proposed Town Center in West Woodmont Common, Click for larger image

Historical town centers have changed over the years, in the 1900′s,  North Londonderry would have be considered the center of town to most. After all that is where Roswell Annis had his mixed use village. You could take the trolley down to the Cohas Water plant and hotel or even to the Pine Island amusement park. The post office considered it the center of town until the early 1980′s when they moved south to Route 102. In the 1950′s and 60′s the eighteen readers that selected “crossroads” in our survey as the center of town would have had good company. Well before supermarkets, this was where you shopped, got your gas, and a drive through meal where the Bank of America is today.

We think the “man on the street” interviews done by the UL that skewed the town center to the crossroads area were a bit off. After all, 80% of our respondents to “where is the center of Londonderry” picked the Town Common.

Proposed Town Center in West Woodmont Common, Click for larger image

So what about the new town common? Many were told by Andres Duany of DPZ at the design charettee earlier this year that “we would have a new town center.” In a conversation with the chairman of Old Home Day, Kathy Wagner  she was told, “Of course you will move your festival to this new village.” As you can imagine, Kathy’s response was quite sharp with the idea of tinkering with a 111 year old tradition.

So we ask, when Woodmont Commons is built, really built, both the east side the west side and the surrounding homes. Will the town center move from the Historic Town Common to our new Urban Center?

Our survey results on where the town center is today, are presented here.  Be sure contribute your idea on where it will be with the survey in our right hand column.

Where is the Center of Londonderry?

  • Mammoth and Pillsbury (Town Common) (81%)
  • Town Municipal Complex (8%)
  • Crossroads (7%)
  • North Londonderry Village (4%)
  • Otterson and Mammoth (0%)

Total Votes: 266

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Birdseye view of the town center on the East side Woodmont Commons