Saturday’s word of the day was serendipity. I’d put off a research trip to Wentworth, New Hampshire for a week due to inertia. I’m looking into the background of the family of a Civil War soldier who was born there.
My first stop was the Webster Public Library in Wentworth, open from 9-12 on Saturdays.
1. I found several books published by a local historian Francis Muzzey that mentioned property owned by the soldier’s family in the early 1800s.
2. I noticed a stack of pamphlets in a dusty case that turned out to be a stack of of original town reports from 1863 through the 1890s with occasional references to his family. I only recognized them because I’d see a couple at the New Hampshire Historical Society the previous week (NHHS only had 3 years worth). I was able to photograph them all.
3. In another case I noticed a thick book with the title “The History of Wentworth, Vol 1 – Manuscript). Turns out it was Hoyt’s original hand-written 1857 history of the town. I own a transcript and was awed to be able to page through the original and photograph the pages relating to the soldier.
4. The library kicked me out when they closed at noon. I headed over to the Wentworth Historical Society, a small building about 1/2 mile away. As I arrived a gentleman was heading out the door on his way to lunch. He asked what I needed. I told him a bit about my research and he said he’d be back in about 10 minutes. At that point I asked if he might be Mr. Muzzey. He was surprised that I knew his name. When he returned we talked for 1 1/2 hours about the family. (The conversation did take a slight detour when he discovered I was related to Lizzie Borden). He’s going to do some research for me on where the various members of the family lived in town before and after the War. He also asked if I would give a presentation to their historical society when I finish my research!
Did I mention that Mr. Muzzey did the 1976 transcription of the Hoyt manuscript? The transcript that I have on my shelf at home.
5. Near the end our talk he pulled out a book he’d compiled of everyone buried in the town cemeteries, sorted by name. We found the soldier, his parents, and an infant brother listed in a cemetery up the street.
He then escorted me down to the cemetery and helped me locate the graves.
The serendipity? If I’d gone to Wentworth last week instead of NHHS:
I wouldn’t have recognized the stack on reports in the display case. The reports were not in the library’s local history section or the their catalog and the librarian at the desk did not know what they were. I only knew what they were because I’d gone to the NHHS and seen one there.
I wouldn’t have met Mr. Muzzey. He says he doesn’t usually go to the historical society on Saturdays because nobody ever drops by. He was only there that one day this summer because they were short handed.
My thanks to the Webster Library for allowing me to examine and photograph the town reports and portions of the manuscript.