Residents of Charlestown, N.H., have worked out a plan to save the home of colonial era clockmaker Stephen Hasham – sort of.
Like so many historic properties, Hasham’s home now finds itself located in a desirable commercial area, and so the property has been designated as future home of a Jiffy Mart. The Valley News reports, however, that rather than destroy the home, it will be taken down and relocated to the property of Wayne McCutcheon, who is making a habit of this type of thing.
He’s also preserved the town’s one-room schoolhouse on his property. Though the house will lose its historic designation, it will be saved, a permanent tribute to an eccentric man and one of the true characters of New Hampshire history.
Delaney Antique Clocks offers a short biography of Hasham. Born in 1764, they note he witnessed the battles of both Bunker and Breeds Hill before relocating to New Hampshire via Worcester.
In Charlestown, he became a clockmaker of considerable quality and renown, a maker of technical instruments, and a hotel manager. One of his clocks is in the collection of the New Hampshire Historical Society, a steeple clock is installed in Norwich, Vermont and one of his surveying instruments is in the collection of the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
In Charlestown, however, he is more known for his rather erratic life, and he might well be in sympathy with the developers who are replacing his home with a modern business. He was a builder, himself, constructing several houses and a hotel that later became the Eagle Hotel.
Historian and re-enactor Dale Baker tells his story here. During a life of nearly 100 years, Hasham had two wives and families. He achieved business success apparently thanks to his first wife’s wealth and the calming influence she had on his fiery character. She was socially well-connected in Charlestown, and when she passed away in 1841, Hasham’s life went into a tailspin. At age 76, he began courting a 23-year-old Vermont school teacher. He would soon marry Lucy Amy Miller, and she would have five children.
Blogger Donn Haven Lathrop tells her story here. Hasham’s business sense had deserted him by this point.
Bad investments and the loss of his first wife’s tempering influence resulted in his spiraling deeply into debt. He lost his hotel and eventually all his possessions to foreclosure and creditors. He was labelled in Charlestown as a drunk and a layabout.
Lucy, meanwhile, was declared insane in 1851 and taken to the Insane Asylum in Concord for two years before her father collected her and returned her to her native Wisconsin in 1853. Her children were raised by families in Charlestown. Hasham himself died in 1861, a virtual pauper who had no hint of the value that would later be attached to his clocks.