Peter and I drove to Berlin, north of us, to attend the kickoff meeting of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. We drove north on a beautiful blue sky day.
Peter was especially interested in attending the meeting as it was going to be held at the Brown company guest house across from the mill in Berlin. Peter’s mother grew up in Berlin as one of the six Bean girls. His Aunt Dorothy married Gordon Brown who worked for the Company. As the six girls remained close throughout their lives, Peter spent a lot of time in Berlin and grew to love it there.
Here’s the Brown Company Guest House where we went for the meeting. The porch has been removed but the house is well preserved. The walls were covered with wonderful copies of old pictures from the early days of logging and Berlin.
In 1868 William Wentworth Brown bought a large sawmill in Berlin and started the Brown Company. He was well liked and known for his hard work and ability to run a business that cared for his employees. The company grew and prospered with him at the helm. The city of Berlin grew also attracting many people from all over the world with special talents needed to run not only the logging business, but a sawmill and and a paper mill. There were Germans, Russians, Norwegians and many French Canadians who settled there. All the way up in this isolated northern New Hampshire town there was a melting pot of humanity who lived, worked, and went to school in harmony.
In 1911, William Robinson Brown, one of the Brown sons,( there were five of them all involved in running the company,) started the idea of a National Forest enlisting large land owners to promote prudent harvesting of the forests. This was the beginning of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association and the Society for Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The Brown company hired the first forester to ever work in the United States. He introduced them to new ideas of land and forest management, They immediately saw the benefits of a renewable forest and implemented many of his ideas. We were meeting on Wednesday March 30th t celebrate the 100th Anniversary of his vision.
The slideshow takes a few minutes to load. Each time it plays there will be additional pictures.
The morning after the meeting, Peter and I went back to the Brown Guest House to take more photographs and read more of the fascinating history of logging. While we were there a woman from the Chamber of Commerce told us about the Moffett House Museum near by at 119 High Street. She said that they had some wonderful photographs of Berlin and the Brown Company history there. We drove to the museum. As we walked in the door we were greeted by one of the museum directors, Raymond Daigle. Raymond spoke with a delightful hint of a french accent. He had worked in the mill for 42 years. He is writing a book about the Brown Company. His knowledge of the history of the Brown Family and the Mill was impressive. he pulled dates out of his head with great ease. There was a large table covered with photograph albums of logging pictures and of the City of Berlin. We spent several hours listening and learning and wallowing in delicious history of Northern New England. There were several other people at the museum, all of whom were knowledgeable about their heritage. Odette Le Clerc, the curator and her husband who is very able on the computer sat and talked with us.W saw wonderful pictures of the Nansen Ski club, a crazy ski race and the first ever snowmobile.
Our heads were swimming with all that we had been exposed to. Time passed too quickly and we needed to head for home. There was a snow storm predicted for that late afternoon and for the next twenty four hours. We wanted to beat the storm.
We were eager to absorb all that we had learned but also to return to the museum soon to hear more stories from the delightful Berlin Ambassadors.
The Moffett House Museum and Genealogy Center is located at 119 High Street in Downtown Berlin. Their telephone number is 603-752-4590 or 603-752-7337.
They are open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday or by appointment. Their
e-mail address is bcchs @hotmail.com
They are closed on major holidays
Admission is free.
If you click on the brochure above it will enlarge the print
Museums like the Moffett House are rare. You will be welcomed by local people who are all volunteers. They are intensely proud of their heritage and history, knowledgeable and eager to share it with visitors. It is well worth the trip north.
There is an excellent video that was produced for New Hampshire Public Television about Berlin. Its’ called “At the River’s Edge”, an oral history of Berlin New Hampshire. I heartily recommend it.
We look forward to our next trip to the north to visit our new friends in Berlin.