Bites of Island news

Jim Cerny, reporting and photography

Living History on Flag Day Heard at the Post Office Strawberry Social Return of Village Store Random Kindness

Living History on Flag Day

On Flag Day, June 14, many members of the New Castle community participated  in an exercise in living history, to mark the Civil War service of former New Castle resident Captain John Murray.

This involved an encampment by Company D, Fifth Regiment, of the New Hampshire Volunteers from the Civil War and a presentation and participation by President Lincoln, as enacted by Steve Wood. Town groups became involved in support of this, with the New Castle Congregational Church Guild providing food and New Castle Cemetery Trustee Tom Boisvert providing key help in developing the schedule of events. Captain Murray's great-great grandsons, Steven and Andrew White, were active participants and the White family brought out a number of items of Murray family memorabilia.

Flag on front door of the Congregational Church.

Chris Benedetto reading Captain John Murray's service record.

The catalyst for the day's activities was Chris Benedetto, chairman of the Preservation Committee and Executive Board Member for the 5th New Hampshire Regiment. Benedetto explained:
I moved to Rollinsford last year, but I used to live in Portsmouth. So I went to Riverside Cemetery one day and was wandering around. Most Civil War graves have a small white marble stone, with just the name, regiment and dates of birth and death. Murray's was unique. It was put up during the War. It was a story of his life.
Benedetto recognized the name from reading the book My Brave Boys. After contacting Tom Boisvert, a New Castle Cemetery Trustee, plans blosssomed.

born in the city of New York, 1825
served in the Mexican War in 1847,
on recommendation of Lieut. Col. Belton
received a certificate of merit President Fillmore
Commissioned Captain of Co. D 5th N.H.
Volunteers Oct. 12, 1861.
He fell early in the battle of Fredericksburg
Dec. 13 1862 while leading a gallant band
of the Defenders of the Country
A kind Father and Husband, a patriotic
Citizen, a brave and faithful Soldier and
Officer. His last words were
"That Flag never was and never shall
be disgraced!"
Erected by his Portsmouth friends.
Inscription on John Murray's gravestone.

At the core of the reenactment was a Civil War encampment by Company D of the Fifth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers. More than a dozen members camped overnight at Town Hall, in the New Castle village center, and then marched in a parade to the Riverside Cemetery for the memorial ceremonies. After firing a final volley they marched back to the village center. The New Castle Historical Society engaged Abraham Lincoln presenter Steve Wood to participate. President Lincoln reviewed the soldiers, spoke at the Cemetery, and returned to the Museum.

Soldiers forming up on the Town Hall lawn, with Chris Benedetto facing camera and Jim Blake on the extreme right.

Soldiers marching to Riverside Cemetery.

President Lincoln reviewing the soldiers.

Flag on the Murray gravestone in Riverside Cemetery.

Soldiers in formation in the Riverside Cemetery.

At least 70 people attended the service at the Riverside Cemetery, with a wide range of ages, including the town's oldest resident, 95-year-old holder of the Boston Post Cane, Marion Rowe.

At the Riverside Cemetery, services consisted of:

Young girl saluting the flag at the Riverside Cemetery.

Marion Rowe, New Castle's oldest resident, at the  Cemetery.

Steve White, Captain Murray's great-great grandson.

Tom Boisvert, New Castle cemetery trustee.

John Murray's watch and photograph, memorabilia on display at the encampment.

The 5th New Hampshire and others marched back to the village center where President Lincoln was available to talk at the New Castle Historical Society Museum, the Church Guild served food, and members of the 5th New Hampshire were available to talk at their encampment beside Town Hall.

Peony bouquet on the Church Guild food table.

Denny Turmelle carrying food for the Church Guild.

Carol White, speaking for the Murray descendants, summarized the day:
We were truly honored to have the 5th New Hampshire Civil War reenactors commemorate our ancestor, Captain John Murray. The ceremony was very impressive and the readings by various members made us proud to be related to such a brave and dedicated soldier as Captain Murray.

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Heard at the Post Office

While standing in line at the Post Office window, a customer (female) was talking to the clerk (female), trying to understand the concept of the Forever Stamp. The customer seemed confused. Finally the clerk said: "Suppose a man gives you a Valentine.  That's not forever. This is forever." Ahhhh!

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Strawberry Social

The Church Guild held their annual Strawberry Social in the Parish Hall on Saturday, June 28th. Despite gloomy weather there was a good turn out.

Strawberry shortcake with whipped cream.

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Return of the village store

As reported last month, plans are progressing for the return of a village store to New Castle. Owner Nancy Borden plans to start construction immediately after July Fourth, hoping to open Labor Day, before the summer season is completely gone. The name is Henrys' Market, a plural possessive that continues the name of the last village store to operate in that location, which was owned by Henry Greenberg, and that commemorates the owner's deceased brother Henry. The plan is to restore that part of the building to its 1890s look, to be "cozy old-fashioned" in Nancy's words. Nancy's daughter, Ana Gabriela Hayhurst, will be the store manager.

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Random kindness and senseless acts of beauty

Last fall a lobsterman hauled out 50-60 traps and abandoned them on the shoreline of the Riverside Cemetery, one of the first things seen on driving into New Castle, with vines growing over them this summer. When this was called to the attention of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, conservation officer Bruce Boudreau tried contacting the lobsterman and, failing that, promptly had them removed!  Thank you!

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Piscataqua River from the Portsmouth Yacht Club in New Castle, with an equatorial bow sundial.

July, 2008