Everyday Life on an East Andover Farm in 1902

A continuation from last month’s article

By Rita Norander


Nannie Robie – taken in 1902 when she was 16. This is the picture she talks about receiving in the mail in one of her April letters.


In my previous article, Nannie Robie, my grandmother, was writing to her brother Robert, who was working as a hired hand at a farm in Amherst, New Hampshire. It was early spring, and Nannie was passing along family and hometown news.

In this article, it is summer, and Robert is working in Lakeport, New Hampshire for Mr. A. A. Tilton. I was surprised that Robert had changed jobs so soon, but most likely once the spring chores were completed, there was a period of time when extra help was not needed, or more likely, could not be afforded. Robert probably went back home until the arrival of summer and the beginning of the haying season, at which time extra help was often a necessity.

Excerpts from Nannie’s Letters

Robert Robie – there is no date on this picture, but it was taken at Elgam Studio in Laconia, so it may have been taken when he was working in Lakeport.

June 23, 1902: Dear Brother: We have been looking for a letter from you for almost two weeks, but haven’t received any yet. We are all well and hope this finds you the same. How do you like the place? The men have plowed the land where the hog yard was last summer, and it is the most rocky piece of ground I have ever seen.

What are you going to do with the puppies? They are playing around in the door yard, and they bother about coming in the house. I have named the darkest one Dewey and the other Sampson. Yesterday, I made them speak for their dinner. Paige is as bad as a little child, playing with them all the time. They are great eaters. Ma and Pa think you had better sell them even if you don’t get that much for them.

Charlie Kirk was married on June 11th to Minnie Jellison. Albert’s wife’s folks came over from Hill yesterday. She and her mother called (visited) here when they went up on the hill to pick strawberries. Her mother said she was only 13 when she was married.

Did you have a hard shower over there last Monday? We did here. Pa went over to Tilton a week ago last Saturday. On his way home, he stopped at an auction on Willow Hill, and bought an accordion.

One of the puppies is barking now. They are comical. Spider (the mother) doesn’t let them nurse anymore unless we hold her. Atkins came up the Tuesday after you left and got his pup.

June 25, 1902: As I am going to the village, I will send my letter even though we have not heard from you. Mother went over to Ada’s (her sister) yesterday and brought Clarence (Ada’s son) home with her. The children all have hard colds. The men folks cleaned out the hen house yesterday. Well I can’t think of anything more to write so I will say goodbye. Hoping to hear from you soon.

From your sister, Nannie

July 2, 1902: Dear Brother, I received your letter last Sunday and the postal card yesterday morning. Well, Pa is laid up for the summer. He went to Franklin Monday afternoon with Fan (horse) and the hay rack to get a hog for Gilman, and some nails. When he got this side of the Opera house, he met an automobile. Fan was afraid of it and started for the sidewalk. Pa got her stopped, and then she reared up. When she came down one of the hold-backs broke and the hay rack came down on her heels. She kicked and broke Pa’s right leg between the knee and ankle so that the bone was splintered. Drs. Jones and Bakeman set it. Hector Moore and another team came and brought Pa home. He is on the couch in the sitting room. Fan is lamed up considerable. Ada and Will (Rayno) were over yesterday and quite a number of others called.

Jersey and Gail both have new calves. I will go up to the village and send the pups this morning on the Peanut (daily train which went to Boston each morning and returned each evening). They have grown awful fast. We shall look for you Saturday, or Monday, as you said. Will close for now.

From you sister, Nannie

July 23, 1902: Dear Brother: I will try and write a few lines to let you know we are all well and hope this will find you the same. Ada (sister) has been over today, and Ab Durgin and Jonathan French called to see Pa. The doctor has just been here, as the drainage in Pa’s leg is just awful. The doctor has to see him every day now.

We haven’t done much haying this week, and quite a little last week. What a hail storm we had a week ago last Tuesday. Mother got a letter from Mabel Reynolds this afternoon. I suppose you saw in the paper that Uncle Horatio was dead. We didn’t know anything about it until we got the paper.

Guy and Frank went fencing yesterday and they got a potato dish full of spruce gum. Mother gave Ada that five dollars today. She said she was going to put it in the bank tomorrow.

There is going to be a circus down to Franklin tomorrow. Susie (sister) and I will probably see the parade. Shall look for you in the crowd.

We have put the calf and lamb in back of the shed. Speck (cow) had a big red and white steer calf last Thursday. Pa let Henry Hilton have it. Albert and his wife are swiping John Aiken’s blueberries. (John Aiken owned land and the mill on what is today called Valley Road)

You forgot to take that envelope, so I will send it to you. I can’t think of any more to write, so I will close. Hoping to hear from you soon.

From your sister, Nannie



Nannie Robie and Guy Hersey, who was the Robie’s hired hand, were married in 1903. The following year they bought the Carlos Tilton farm on Route 11, which was within sight of the farm where Nannie grew up. Carlos was Nannie’s great uncle, and he and his wife were retiring from farming. The farm became known as the Hersey Farm (with the red doors), and is owned today by Nannie’s great granddaughter, Lori Hersey.

In 1906, Robert Robie married Blanche Hersey who was Guy’s sister. In 1912, Robert and Blanche bought the Robie farm from his father, and they lived there for almost 35 years.