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Newbury, Haverhill Join Forces to Mark 250th Anniversary

Early in the planning process, Newbury and Haverhill’s 250th anniversary committees melded into one. The towns, separated by the Connecticut River, go way back, so working together made sense, organizers say.

Chartered by Gov. Benning Wentworth on the same day, May 18, 1763, “they really have been sister communities since their inception,” said committee member Lesa Lakeman-McDonald.

The yearlong celebrations kicked off with a New Year’s Eve Ball in Woodsville, and there’s much more to come.

A visit from a traveling veterans memorial and a railroad celebration timed to line up with the popular Woodsville/Wells River July 4th parade are among the various events planned.

The memorial, a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall that is 80 percent of the original size, also honors veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and current conflicts, said Wayne Fortier, who heads up the committee. It’s a tribute to American veterans and other “American heroes who secure our safety,” including police officers and firefighters.

The cost of bringing the memorial to Haverhill is $10,000, more than half of which has already been provided by local veterans organizations, said Fortier, a Vietnam veteran who served with the Marine Corps.

Ongoing events include “Celebrating 250 Years of Bestsellers,” a book discussion group at Baldwin Memorial Library in Wells River. “A Newbury Portrait,” an exhibit featuring photographs by Chris Esten and Linda Bryan, will be on display through Feb. 14 at Tenney Memorial Library in Newbury. Selected pieces will later be moved to businesses in downtown Wells River.

The 250th committee is organizing some of the activities, said Susan Brown, a committee member from North Haverhill, and “lots of people in town are doing other events.”

As new activities are planned, they are added to the website, www.celebrate250.org.

People can submit church suppers and other events for the online calendar, even if they are unrelated to the 250th, Lakeman-McDonald said. “The hope was that we could really showcase all the things are going on in our community through the website.”

A 250th anniversary souvenir book is also in the works. The 128-page book ties the history of the two towns together in text and photographs. In addition to its historical elements, the full-color book will offer “a real snapshot of what the two communities are in the present day,” Lakeman-McDonald said. It will sell for $10.

As the celebrations ramp up, Fortier’s hearing a lot of buzz.

“People are getting excited,” the Woodsville resident said. “They want to have this year be a meaningful year.”

Upcoming Events

Here are some upcoming 250th events. Except for the train rides on July 5, admission is free. For more information, go to the Haverhill Newbury 250th Facebook page or www.celebrate250.org.

Feb. 10: “Auctioneering in New Hampshire and Vermont” with auctioneer Archie Steenburgh, 2 p.m., Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall, Haverhill.

April 7: “Wit and Wisdom in the 19th Century,” a history of local homegrown “newspapers” with writer, storyteller and oral historian Jo Radner, 7 p.m., Wells River Congregational Church. An organ concert by Bruce Stevens will follow, from 8-8:30 p.m.

April 14: “CSI Haverhill: Crime and Punishment in the 19th Century Connecticut Valley,” with Dane A. Morrison, professor of early American history at Salem (Mass.) State University, 2 p.m., Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall, Haverhill. Sponsored by Haverhill Historical Society.

May 18: Founders’ Day Events, opening events at 9:30 a.m., Robert E. Clifford Memorial Building, South Court Street, Woodsville. Dartmouth College Professor Emeritus Jere Daniell will discuss the history of the towns’ charters. Other activities will follow on the Newbury and Haverhill commons.

May 23-27: American Veterans Traveling Tribute, including a mobile Vietnam War Memorial, North Haverhill Fairground. The monuments will be open 24 hours a day, with access to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial database from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

June 9: “To Vegetate in the Country …” the story of the General John Montgomery family, with Kimberly S. Alexander, visiting professor, Department of History, University of New Hampshire, Durham. 2 p.m., Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall, Haverhill. Sponsored by Haverhill Historical Society.

July 5: Railroad Day. One-way and round-trip themed train rides between Wells River and Bradford. Details will be announced later this month at www.celebrate250.org.

July 6: Wells River Walking Tour. The three-hour tour will start and finish in the heart of the village, with presenters at each of the nine stops and access to restrooms along the way. Participants will receive an illustrated summary of the tour. 9 a.m., Wells River Savings Bank parking lot.

July 6: Bayley-Hazen Military Road Monument Re-Dedication. Larry Coffin, author of In Times Past, and special guests will discuss the road’s history. 2 p.m., Wells River Welcome Center.

July 20: “Jacob Bayley’s Desk: An Intimate Look at the Life and Times of Newbury’s Founding Father,” with Oxbow DAR Regent Joy Leland Michelson. Michelson completed a master’s degree at Dartmouth College. Her thesis was “Jacob Bayley, Indians, and the Remembered Past: Reflections on History in a Small Vermont Town.” 3 p.m., DAR Chapter House, Newbury. Historic artifacts will be on display from 10 a.m.

July 23: The Yankee Brass Band. The band performs with period instruments and historically informed arrangements of music from the second half of the 19th century. 7 p.m., Newbury Common, (In case of rain, the event will be held in the Newbury Village School gym.)

Aug. 11: “The Lives of Henry Keyes and Francis Parkinson Keyes.” A look into the lives and accomplishments of Henry Keyes, a New Hampshire governor and U.S. Senator, and Francis Parkinson Keyes, a successful fiction writer. Their grandchildren, Peter Keyes and Francis Keyes Keidel, will present the lecture. 2 p.m. Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall, Haverhill.

Sept. 8: “Old Timers — Raconteurs at the Newbury Town House.” Frank Bryan, Newbury High School Class of 1959, will moderate a panel of longtime Newbury residents reminiscing about life there during the 20th century. Bryan teaches courses in American politics, state government and democracy at the University of Vermont. He is a trustee of the Vermont Historical Society, a member of the Center for Research on Vermont, and the author of several books, including Yankee Politics in Rural Vermont; The Vermont Papers: Recreating Democracy on a Human Scale; and Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How It Works. 2 p.m., The Town House, Newbury.

Nov. 3: “Growing Up in Newbury,” with speaker Frank Bryan. 2 p.m., Tenney Memorial Library, Newbury.

Dec. 14: “Holidays on the Newbury Common,” an old-fashioned skating party with hot chocolate, cookies and more.

Editor’s note: The Haverhill/Newbury 250th committee meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Haverhill town office. Organizers are looking for volunteers to help with upcoming events. For more information, email haverhill.newbury.250@gmail.com. Aimee Caruso can be reached at acaruso@vnews.com or 603-727-3210.