Haverhill’s Cursed Son: Jonathan Buck

A mysterious leg is indelibly stained on the face of the monument to Colonel Jonathan Buck of Haverhill. (Photograph from historical postcard.)

By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

The image is well known – the image of a leg indelibly stained on the face of the monument to Colonel Jonathan Buck—a Haverhillite rejected by his hometown, but who found success founding a town in Maine. As with every good ghost yarn, there are various incarnations of the story. Some say it was a visual reminder of the curse levied by a local witch burned alive by the pitiless judge and founder of Buckstown, Maine. Others state Colonel Buck had a mistress, who once her beauty faded, was tossed aside for a younger paramour.

How Haverhill Was Really Founded

Monument to Rev. John Ward and Colonel Nathaniel Saltonstall at Pentucket Cemetery, Haverhill. Part one of a series, “A Town Named Haverhill”
By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

Editor’s Note: Families can be complicated. The true story of the founding of Haverhill, Mass., is a testament to this fact with the founding minister’s father and brother-in-law being shown to be real estate schemers and his brother being a burglar expelled from Harvard. Much of the story of Haverhill’s founding has been steeped in fanciful folklore, but David Goudsward reveals the truth is much more colorful. The key date in the founding of Haverhill is 1639, a year before the first 12 settlers arrived at the banks of the Merrimack River near today’s Mill Street.

Whittier and the Rude Birthday Guest

Boston’s fashionable Hotel Brunswick, Boylston Street at the corner of Clarendon, was the setting of John Greenleaf Whittier’s 70th birthday party. There’s always one. That party guest who—because of the free flow of liquor, poor upbringing or owing to some kind of personality defect—humiliates the host and ruins the party. It’s even more embarrassing when it’s an expensive, highbrow affair at a posh venue with a guest list that would be the envy even of the White House. Well, it happened to Haverhill’s favorite son, John Greenleaf Whittier on the occasion of the famous poet’s 70th birthday party Dec.

Henry Ford Buys a Piece of Whittierland During 1928 City Visit

Built by the Proprietors of the Merrimack River Bridge in Rocks Village, Haverhill, the Rocks Village Toll House was purchased by Henry Ford in 1928. It is now known as “The Whittier Tollhouse & Shoeshop” and stands at near the entrance of Ackley Covered Bridge, Christie Street, Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Mich. (From the Collections of The Henry Ford.)

By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

On Oct. 18, 1927, Whittier Birthplace received a visitor. This, by itself, was not a particularly momentous event—the Birthplace had been open to the public since 1893 after former Haverhill Mayor James H. Carleton purchased the house and land and presented it to the Haverhill Whittier Club.

Haverhill’s Very Own Disease: ‘Haverhill Fever’

A typical river rat. By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

Dr. Carl Mindlin, a Russian Jewish immigrant, had been growing his medical practice in Currier Square (Washington Street at High) for five years. His fluency in Yiddish and the location, a block west of the predominantly Russian-Jewish congregation of Temple Ahavas Achim, provided a steady stream of patients. So successful was his practice that he had moved his wife and 5-year-old daughter from above the office to a new home on Commonwealth Avenue. When Mindlin arrived at the office Jan.

Was America’s First Circus Elephant in Haverhill?

Old Bess’ monument and the Elephant Hotel still stand. The first two floors serve as the Somers Town Hall and third floor is home to the Somers Historical Society and the Museum of the Early American Circus. (Daniel Case photograph.)

By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

Did the first circus elephant in America make its way to Haverhill? In Alfred, Maine, along route 4 in southern Maine, there is a memorial erected in 1963 by the Sanford-Alfred Historical Society and Circus Fans America. The reason for the great public interest in the killing of this elephant is because it was purported at the time “the” elephant was the first elephant in America.

Haverhill’s Former Chicken Farmer Drove Robert Frost to Poetry

By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

When veterinarian Charlemagne C. Bricault died Jan. 10, 1949 at age 82, the obituary in the Haverhill Evening Gazette noted Dr. Bricault’s successful animal practice and his quarter century of work with the city’s health department—first as the inspector of dairies, then as health inspector and finally as a member of the board itself. While Bricault’s prominence as a breeder of Boston terriers was undoubtedly of interest to readers in 1949, the obit did not mention that the good doctor was also a nationally recognized poultryman in his younger days. In fact, Bricault and his chickens almost single-handedly forced Robert Frost onto the path of becoming an internationally recognized poet. By the time Bricault moved to Haverhill in 1910, he and Robert Frost had already crossed paths, and each had taken a road less traveled.

Part 3: WHAV’s Historic and Rocky Road to FM

With the Federal Communications Commission’s tentative selection of WHAV to receive a new FM license, the Haverhill Heritage Series reviews the difficult path FM has had to circumnavigate in Haverhill.  Third in a Series
By Tim Coco
President & General Manager

The first incarnation of WHAV-FM was dead, along with its most zealous advocate, John T. “Jack” Russ. WHAV-FM lasted just under four years—1948 to 1952, but the fight for FM would also bring other casualties. Major Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM, became despondent over his legal battles to force RCA to pay FM royalties. “On the night of January 31, 1954, Armstrong put on his overcoat, scarf, gloves, and hat, opened his window, and jumped out, falling ten stories to his death,” wrote Yannis Tsividis in Columbia University’s “Columbia Magazine.” Along with Armstrong went the Continental (FM) Network—of which WHAV was an affiliate.