The Grande Dame of Peabody Place, Agnes McNeil Marshall, celebrated her 102nd birthday and was presented with the Boston Post Cane on November 12 at Peabody Place Senior Living Community in Franklin, New Hampshire.
The day was marked with a party of Boscawen town officials and Agnes’ family joining her to observe this momentous occasion. Members of the Marshall family came dressed in Marshall Tartan – a nod to the family’s strong Scottish roots; the surname dates back to about the 12th Century and means “horse servant,” perhaps an interpretation of farrier.
The Town of Boscawen was represented by Selectmen Matt Burdick and Paul Dickey with Select Board Chair, Lorrie Carey (who is also Agnes’ oldest granddaughter), officiating in the presentation of the Boston Cane which is given to Boscawen’s oldest resident. Mrs. Marshall, who has lived through two pandemics, was originally nominated for presentation of the Boston Post Cane in 2019.
Agnes Marshall is a beloved figure in the town of Boscawen’s recent memory having served as the town’s tax collector and notary public for many years while operating the family business, Marshall’s Florist, and working with her husband’s family at Marshall’s Farm. Additionally, she assisted her husband in the National Grange insurance business for 23 years. In 1959, Agnes began working at New Hampshire Bituminous Company to help put her three children through college and worked until her retirement forty years later at age eighty.
Born at home to French and Scottish parents, the house has since been demolished but stood across from the mills below what is now the Masonic Lodge. Later on Agnes lived in the apartment over what many may remember as Carey’s Market. She was industrious and hardworking – as a child she graded eggs on the Marshall Farm and, later, waitressed at the Stone Porch Lodge Restaurant serving chicken dinners at Marshall’s Farm. She also worked, along with her mother, at the home of educator and brain trust to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dr. Aldolf A. Berle at the Berle summer home on King Street in Boscawen. At 16, she worked at the soda fountain at Taylor’s Drug Store in Penacook. She also waitressed and helped make beds with Lulu Perkins at the Bonny Tavern in Boscawen which was located across from the Torrent fire station.
Agnes and her husband, Sumner Marshall, served the Boscawen community in many ways. Agnes was a Golden Sheaf member of the National Grange, a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the United Church of Christ where she also served as Deaconess, and a member of the New England Gladiolus Society. During the depths of the depression, Agnes acquired the title of a kind woman which was marked on her fence post by hobos passing through from the nearby railroad, since she always offered them kind words and something substantial to eat.
The Boston Post Cane was originally given to 700 New England towns by the Boston Post newspaper in 1909, awarded to the oldest living male resident in town. In 1930, women were also allowed to receive the cane. When the resident passes, the Boston Post Cane is then given to the next oldest resident. The Town of Boscawen gives out a replica of the original cane which is kept in the Municipal Office Building.
With only remnants remaining of the COVID-19 pandemic, at long last, Agnes received her award on her 102nd birthday were she resides at Peabody Place, a private nonprofit senior living community situated between the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers in Franklin New Hampshire.