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Ice Harvesting by Colin J Sanborn- Claremont NH Historical Society (pdf)


Harvesting ice, now done in just a few places, was once a common activity in many New England towns. Generally, January and February were the months when the ice was harvested, since the long cold spells would ensure thick ice had formed on the rivers and lakes. Ice a foot and a half thick would hold the weight of the men and horses as they worked at harvesting the frozen crop before the weather warmed. Men would be bundled in layers to fend off the cold and horses would wear spiked shoes for grip.

A number of steps were involved in the process, which is described in The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman.  A horse drawn scraper would first clear the snow off the ice and then a large, horse-drawn plane would be dragged across the ice to create a smooth surface.  This plane usually had a seat for one of the men to ride on to weight it down.  Once smoothed it was time to bring in the plow.

One man would lead the horse and another behind it guided the plow on a straight course. The plow had a set of teeth that would cut into the ice and an attached out-rigger-like blade to score a parallel line. Once a line was cut, the plow would be brought back to the start and, following the scored line, a second line would be cut.  This process was repeated over and over until the ice field was cut and scored in one direction.

The whole process was repeated, cutting lines perpendicular to the first set. The distance between the plow blades was about 20 inches. In the background of that photo, close to the ice edge, men use hand saws to cut the blocks. In the foreground a man poses with his pry bar or chisel.  This tool would be used to free the 20 by 20 inch blocks of ice from the field and direct them out into the free channel.  From there, the blocks would be floated over to the ice house, where they would be hoisted out of the water, and packed in the ice house with sawdust for insulation to help keep them frozen all year long.

Throughout the years a number of dealers supplied ice for home iceboxes in Claremont and surrounding towns. By 1907 E. M. Berry acquired the Claremont Ice Company which had been in operation for several years, and a few years later also acquired his competitor, the Sugar River Ice Company. In time he added the lumber business creating the Claremont Ice and Lumber Company with its offices on Washington Street. It was said that Berry was so conscientious about serving his customers that he would even take calls at home up to 9 pm and if necessary, would make deliveries himself using his own touring car.

In the early 1920's Berry built Spring Pond, in the vicinity of Veteran’s Park on Green Mountain Road, for the harvesting of ice for his Spring Pond Ice Company. It was noted in 1923 that when this pond was drained, the springs refilled it within eight days. According to City directories, the Claremont Ice Company on Bellic Street, was in operation until the early 1950's.

You can watch ice being cut on Kezar Lake in North Sutton, New Hampshire when the folks at Muster Field Farm Museum haul out their equipment and fill their circa 1890 ice house. The ice is used to chill vegetables in the farm stand and throughout the summer and fall at farm events--including cranking out some old-fashioned homemade ice cream on Farm Day in August.


W.H.H. Moody by Colin J. Sanborn - Claremont Historical Society (pdf)


2009 marked the 166th anniversary of W.H.H. Moody's birth.  His father, Jonathan Moody, a shoemaker by trade, moved from Unity to Claremont with his wife and growing family in 1838. In a house on Elm Street, at Terrace Corner, he set up shop and raised his family.  On May 12, 1842 a son was born and named for the recently deceased president, William Henry Harrison.

William Moody grew up in a large family of eleven brothers and sisters. At the age of 14 he entered the employment of Russell Farwell who ran a shoe shop on the corner of Pine and Broad Streets.  Here he stayed, learning the trade, until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he enlisted in the New England Calvary. Young Moody's service lasted only six months, after which he took a job with a Boston shoe manufacturer.  A traveling salesman for five years, with a territory covering the western states, he was offered a partnership, and the firm became known as McGibbons, Moody, & Raddin.

Eventually Moody's business ventures brought him back to New Hampshire, with the opening of a four-story factory in the Amoskeag section of Manchester. The year was 1873. The new partnership of Crain, Moody & Rising employed over a thousand and turned out 8,000 pairs of shoes for the southern and western markets.

The business flourished, and by 1880, expansion and reorganization was warranted. Moody, Estabrook, & Anderson relocated to a larger building in Nashua. In a few years they produced over 10,000 pairs of medium grade men's and women's shoes daily.

By the time he was in his fifties, Moody had netted great financial and personal rewards, including being named a director of the Shoe and Leather Bank of Boston. Seeking a diversion from business, he returned to his native Claremont and purchased land for a country retreat. Highland View Farm began with 87 acres and grew to a 600 acre estate along Charlestown Road and Maple Avenue.

Rocks cleared from the pastures and fields were used to build stone walls along the street as well as the grand stone arch over the carriage drive entrance, now known as Arch Road. Houses and great barns were constructed and Moody began raising and breeding race horses.

Moody and his wife, the former Mary Maynard of Bowdoinham Maine, traveled extensively to auctions from New York to California, buying some of the finest horses in the country.  A race track constructed in 1890 near Maple Avenue was used to train and race Highland View's trotters and fliers.

Ailing health forced Moody to retire in 1896 and make Highland View his permanent home. While recuperating, he turned his attention to his farm and his town. With full health restored, he purchased and refurbished the Hotel Claremont on Tremont Square, creating one of the top notch hotels in the state.  Portraits of his prized trotters, painted by Scott Leighton, a well-known artist specializing in animals, hung on the walls of the new Moody Hotel.

In 1916 W. H. H. and Mary Moody offered a 175 acre portion of Highland View Farm to the town of Claremont for use as a public park. Four years later they sold the rest of their beloved farm and moved into a smaller house on Bailey Avenue. From there Moody walked to his hotel every day and continued to manage its affairs.

Mary Moody died in 1923 and was interred in the Moody mausoleum in the Pleasant Street Cemetery. That same year, her husband commissioned ornamental concrete and iron memorial gates for all the town's cemeteries and Moody Park. Just two years later, at the age of 83, William Henry Harrison Moody died.

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