About Gordon Peery

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So far Gordon Peery has created 43 blog entries.

Bethuel Harris

E-1-2 Bethuel Harris This substantial brick home in the center of Harrisville was built c. 1819 by Bethuel Harris.  He was born in Medway, Massachusetts in 1769 the eighth child of Erastus and Rebecca Harris’ nine children. He moved with his parents to Packersfield at about age 12. Bethuel married Deborah Twitchell, [...]

The Curious Case of Ithamar’s Button

In a previous article I told a story about the discovery of an unknown colonial homesite on our property and the 1770s relics I found with my metal detectors. Research revealed a gentleman named Ithamar Smith and possibly two other men living here from 1772-1773. It is speculated that Ithamar possibly moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, after departing Nelson in 1773. Three years after my first article and many, many hours detecting this site, I thought I had found every relic. I went out with my detector this past summer, returning to the cabin site, assuming I would be finding 18 th century handmade nails. After ten nails, I found a pewter button – the signal had been blocked by the nails. After cleaning the button, I noticed a number 23 on the front. Guessing a numbered button is usually military, I was super excited!

The Nelson Music Collection

The Nelson Music Collection was first published in 1969, as a “Collection of Authentic Square Dance Melodies. Compiled by Newt Tolman, a flute player from Nelson, and his piano accompanist, Kay Gilbert from Peterborough, it contains 64 tunes that might be heard at one of the local square dances. I

He Perished of Cold by the Wayside

In 1864, Jonathan Whittier moved with his family into a 60-year-old farmhouse in the southwest corner of Stoddard. In late December of 1876 the family was running low on supplies. A storm was threatening, but Whittier felt that he could walk to the Munsonville store and post office, some 3 miles distant, to get supplies and the family’s mail before the storm arrived.

The Abenaki

As early as 20,000 years ago, small groups of hunter-gatherers began to enter the pristine environment of this continent.They followed the wild game on which they depended across the ancient exposed bridge of land into the new world. They eventually expanded from the Arctic to the very tip of South America and moved eastward toward the shores of the Atlantic. Over the last hundred years, archaeological excavations have revealed some of their wandering, their hunting sites, their more extended camp sites and later their villages. All of this growth and social development occurred before the arrival of another group of people on the opposite shore that followed their need to find new territory to increase their food supply.

2021-05-28T23:07:13+00:00Bert Wingerson, NA|

The Chapel-by-the-Lake

In the early development of manufacturing, areas that afforded the potential for water power were prime locations for community growth. In 1814, the Cotton Factory was built in a remote section of Nelson to take advantage of the water power from the outflow of the dammed Factory Lake, now known as Granite Lake.  A [...]

13: John DeMartelly

See the Master Page  for The Pennsylvania Settlement.  from which this is one chapter. Or you can just read this page.  John Stockton De Martelly (1903-1979) John S. de Martelly. Photo courtesy of Michael de Martelly "The wise and powerful wizard" was the caption written in crayon beneath the official name [...]

11: John Duncan Spaeth

See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. John Duncan Spaeth (1865-1957) Coach Spaeth on Lake Carnegie ca. 930. Photo courtesy of the de Martelly family. At Princeton University, Dr. Spaeth was preceptor (teacher/ instructor) 1905-1911, and Professor of English 1911- 1935. He was President of [...]

10: Marie Spaeth

See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Marie Haughton Spaeth (1870-1937) Marie Haughton Spaeth. Photo courtesy of the de Martelly Family Land­scape and portrait painter in the impressionist style and wife of John Duncan Spaeth, Marie Spaeth was born in Hanover, NH. In 1889 she [...]

07: Seneca Egbert

See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Dr. Seneca Egbert (1863-1939) and Nancy Egbert Dr. Egbert was a physician. He graduated from Princeton University in 1884 and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1888. Before graduating, Dr. Egbert had been a demonstrator of [...]

06: Henry Winchester Rolfe

See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Professor Henry Winchester Rolfe (1858 - 1945) and Mrs. Rolfe Professor Rolfe was an English instructor at Cornell University (1883-1885), Professor of Latin at Swarthmore College (1885-1890), lecturer in Latin literature at the University of Pennsylvania (1891-1892), and Associate Professor [...]

04: Olivia Rodham

See the Master Page for The Pennsylvania Settlement. from which this is one chapter. Olivia Rodham by Margaret Redmond. Oil on Canvas. Photo courtesy of Roberta Wingerson Miss Olivia Rodham (1845 0 1920) Botanist, lex­iconographer, scholar. At Swarthmore College she served as Assistant Librarian and Instructor of Botany (1881- 1886), and Acting [...]

Music and Dance in the Nelson Town Hall: The Myth, the Magic the Truth

What's behind the legendary status of the Nelson Town Hall? This video is from a Zoom presentation made for the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library, on December 19, 2020. Lisa Sieverts (dance caller) and Gordon Peery (piano player), both long-time participants in Nelson contra dances, have unearthed some charming nuggets of local history. Look to [...]

The High Drive Concert

The stage of the Nelson Town Hall has seen many prominent musicians over the years. March 24, 2019 brought the band High Drive, featuring Bonnie Bewick and Larry Wolfe, both members of the Boston Symphony, joined by our own Gordon Peery for a concert of (mostly) fiddle tunes. Bonnie and Larry and, three nights before, played at Carnegie Hall, but they found the energy and intimacy of the Nelson audience to be more satisfying.

Apple Hill

Apple Hill began as the brainchild of Gene Rosov, a young cellist and Harvard undergrad who taught cello at the All-Newton Music School in a suburb of Boston. Inspired by his experience as a teenager at Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Massachusetts, Gene’s dream was to start a chamber music camp for his own students and their friends and siblings.

Nelson Roads and Cellar Holes Interactive Map Demo

This video is an edit of a Zoom presentation sponsored by the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library. Regular users of the library will know that there are frequently programs late Saturday mornings featuring speakers on a variety of topics. This (and other) Zoom programs provide a way to continue these programs while we are still [...]


Ralph Page’s Northern Junket

From 1949 to 1984, Ralph single-handedly published 165 mimeographed issues of his Northern Junket magazine, which contained editorials, recipes, stories, dance notes, and sheet music for squares, contras, and international folk dances, and sheet music for many folk songs. Though he lived in Nelson, his popularity had him traveling all around the country and beyond.

Dancing Forever

Not too long ago a piano tuner submitted a bill for work done on the piano in the Nelson Town Hall. With his invoice he included the following comment: “Because of the age of this piano and long abandoned construction practices, it is impossible to give this piano a highly accurate tuning. It has numerous false beats, inharmonicity, and heavy wear. Surprisingly, the overall tone is superior and the action is still fast and responsive. I suspect the piano is favored by those who play on it.”

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