Old deeds found in Lyndeborough safe

LYNDEBOROUGH – Some long stored pieces of town history will eventually be available for people to view.

Lyndeborough town records and deeds dating back to the Revolutionary War have been found, sorted and stored in archival boxes and are waiting to be copied.

For many years, those old papers were kept in a huge old iron safe, which took up space in the town office that could be better used for other things. Two years ago, secure storage was procured and a place located in which to put the old safe. It was opened, the collection of papers and ledgers placed in the Town Clerk’s office and the safe removed with considerable effort by members of the Highway Department. It is still used for items that are needed only rarely.

As she had time, Town Clerk Trish Schultz sorted the documents and filed them in acid-free folders and boxes. When she has more time – some time after elections and Town Meeting – she said she will begin copying the records so the public can view them. The documents themselves are considered too old and valuable to be on general display.

But for some research by members of the Heritage Commission, she brought out a file of old deeds. She said she was particularly happy to find the deed from the Lafayette Artillery Company to the town transferring the ownership of Citizens’ Hall in 1888 for $1.

The Artillery Company needed a larger building for their meetings and social gatherings. It was built mostly by donations amid a great deal of controversy. It now houses the town offices and the police department.

Other deeds looked at are for expansions of the South and Johnson’s Corner cemeteries over a number of years. One of the South Yard deeds is for the tiny piece of land on which the Civil War Monument stands. It was erected on a “knoll across the road from the cemetery” in 1879, and given to the town by Rufus Chamberlain with the condition that the cemetery wall be moved to enclose it, which was done some years later.

His cousin, Peter Cram, sold the town what is called the “new section” in 1888 and Cemetery Road was moved to provide access to the new section. The walls were rebuilt at that time.

One interesting, and for awhile puzzling, deed is for the lot where the Center School was built in 1892. The previous school had burned and a different, more central location was sought.

Roads at the time did not have official names, so the deed description begins: “A certain tract of land located midway between the house of Fred A. Richardson and the house of Thomas A. Williams.”

Williams is not listed in the genealogies – the easiest way to trace a long ago resident – but a search through the town history of 1905 disclosed that he lived in the house on the corner of Center and Mountain roads, where he kept a store. That building was also at one time the Lyndeborough Center Post Office.

Finding the boundaries of that lot now would be a problem. The description begins “beginning at a maple tree in the fence on a road, thence westerly on the highway four rods to a stake and stone.”

Modern deeds have the road name, a street number and tax map numbers.

The deeds are all handwritten in the graceful, flowing script of the time. It takes a little practice to read, but the effort is worth it.