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    Site No. 8.  196 South Main Street:  This house is an excellent example of Victorian stick-built Queen Anne architecture.  It had 12 rooms, a 3-story carriage house and a picnic grove out back.  It was made possible by a military pension—awarded 20 years after the Civil War.  Newmarket resident James Caswell had enlisted at age 25.  Serving with a regimental band, he often performed in the trenches of battlefields.  There is no record of which instrument he played, or of him ever playing again. 

    Back in Newmarket with his young family, James opened a store, which did very well.  In 1880, he purchased land, but construction on this house began only after 1883 when he finally got that pension. He was active in town organizations and hosted gatherings in his picnic grove.  His wife died not long after moving in, but he lived here until his rather sudden death at age 79—sitting at the dining table. 

    Neither of the Caswell sons were living nearby, so they rented out the house.  During the 1930s, John and Signe Bentley, with their five young children lived here.  Their daughter Mary wrote about the property:

    The main stairway had a banister, and as kids they would slide down with their feet knocking decorative wooden pieces loose from the spindles… Gypsies used to camp every summer near the house and the children were always warned to stay away from them …During the Hurricane of 1938, the children watched their father lash trees together to prevent them falling on the house…

    The Bentley family shared the home with a caretaker, who at one point had been listed as an owner of the mansion.  On the deed, she was Leonora Puhlopek.  Other times she went by other names.  But people in town knew her as “Mary Moonshine.”  One small boy called her “Mary Moonshine” to her face, and she threatened to cut out his tongue.  

    Judge James Griffin bought the house in 1948.  When his wife Julia fell ill, Anita Provost was her caregiver.  Anita’s young grandson Michael often stayed with her here after school.  One day while bringing Mrs. Griffin her tea, he got lost and ended up locked out on a balcony.  Michael recollects being rescued by “a huge tall man” –Judge Griffin.

    Over the years, the Caswell furniture was auctioned off.  Frank Willey paid ten dollars for the 1880s master bedroom set.  This was inherited by his great-granddaughter Linda Bentley Hopey.  It was meant to be:  Both her great-grandparents Willey and her grandparents John and Signe Bentley had slept in that bed.

    During the 1970s, Roger and Judy Harvey owned the mansion. While living there, the building was 1 apartment upstairs and a 12 room apartment downstairs with walls and cabintry of  mahogany—and dishes and books left behind by Judge Griffin.    Years after they left, the main house and the old carriage house were turned into five separate apartments. 

    Continue over the railroad bridge for your next stop.

    END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.

    Site No. 8 (196 So. Main St.)  CASWELL MANSION – 1885. Death in the dining room…Gypsies in the backyard… “Mary Moonshine”

    The Property 

    This parcel of land had been planted well over a two hundred years ago with a thick grove of walnut and oak trees —a large picnic ground when it had been owned by the heirs of Colonel Joseph Smith (of the Smith–Davis garrison at Lubberland).   It was sold in succession to Benjamin Mead, Wentworth Cheswill, Benjamin Lovering, the Newmarket Manufacturing Company, and then Dr. George Kittredge.  

    During his ownership, Mr.Lovering had planted orchards of apple, peach, pear and plum trees. These thrived under the stewardship of Dr. Kittredge.  Local children could help themselves to any fruit that fell on the ground.  But if the good doctor found anyone picking fruit off the tree, or worse yet climbing or playing in the branches —then there would be dire consequences, parents notified and reckonings to be had.  And he knew every kid in town, as he had birthed most of them. 

    Dr. Kittredge saw the future and the future was with the railroad.  A savvy politician, in 1835 he was elected to the NH State House of Representatives in 1835, 1847, 1848, and in 1852—during which time he served as Speaker of the House.  He saw to it that he was placed on the NH State Railroad Commission, and then became a director of the Boston & Maine Railroad Co. 1836-1856.  Not surprisingly, he managed to persuade the railroad to purchase his property on the Boston to Maine Line so that by 1841, the rails had gone from the junction through the town towards Dover and on to Portland, ME.

    (the above photo taken from a post card at the Newmarket Historical Society is not flipped, but it does show a driveway that ran from Main Street back around to the rear carriage house.  That driveway has since been changed and now runs from Main St to the carriage house parallel to the rr tracks)

     After the Doctor’s death in 1880, this parcel of land (bordered  by Main Street on the south, Packers Falls Road on the west, and the railroad line to include Pine Street over to Riverside Cemetery) was sold first to Attorney Charles H. Smith who subdivided the property and then resold the 5 acre plot of land to James Caswell.   

    James Caswell: Early Family Life in Newmarket, pre-Civil War

    James Madison Caswell was born 11 Oct 1835 in Barrington to James Albert (1791-1842) and Lydia Evans Caswell (1794-1884).  His oldest sister Lydia (1817-1902) married John F. Chapman of Newmarket in August 1840 and moved to town until her death at age 85.  The next oldest sister, Lorinda (1823-1842) died in Barrington the same year as their father.  Sometime before 1860 his mother took the remaining family to Newmarket where she ran a boarding house. The oldest son Samuel E. (1825-1898) and daughter Sarah E (1820-1903) later returned to work the family farm in Barrington. 

    James and his brother George K. (1832-1901) listed their occupations as cordwainers in the 1860 census.  There were 17 people living in this boarding house.  One 23-year-old lodger who caught his eye was Miss Amanda Hursey from Dover.  She worked in the NMCo.  cotton mill.  James & Amanda married in July 1862, a month before he enlisted in the Civil War.   

    Military Duty:  

    James and his two brothers George and Samuel mustered in the same day in September 1862 with the 13th NH Infantry:

    CASWELL, James M.– enlisted 11 Aug 1862 at age 25 as a Private in Company E, 13th Infantry. Mustered in 19 Sep 1862 Transferred to the Band, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 24 Artillery on 20 Jan 1863.  Mustered out almost three years later on 21 Jun 1865 as a 3rd Class Musician at Richmond, VA.

    He resided in and was credited to Newmarket.  He applied for a military pension on 13 May 1880, which he did not receive until 1883.

    With the band he was in constant service, being at all the battles with the brigade, in which he remained until the close of the war, among them being Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Drury’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Fort Harrison and Fair Oaks.   On the morning of April 3, 1865, the band under General Devens marched into the Confederate capital playing “The Star Spangled Banner”.   He recalled “It was my privilege to be in the front rank of the band”.

    Regimental Bands in the Civil War

    Bands proliferated throughout the war and performed on all manner of occasions, even during the heat of battle.  The band of the 13th performed in the trenches.  Lieutenant Thompson of the 13th New Hampshire describes an incident occurring just after the battle of Cold Harbor, June 8, 1864:

    This evening the Band of the Thirteenth goes into the trenches at the front and indulges in a “competition concert” with a band that is playing over across in the enemy’s trenches. The enemy’s Band renders Dixie, Bonnie Blue Flag, My Maryland, and other airs dear to the Southerner’s heart. Our Band replies with America, Star Spangled Banner, Old John Brown, etc.  After a little time, the enemy’s band introduces another class of music; only to be joined almost instantly by our Band with the same tune.  All at once the band over there stops, and a rebel battery opens [fire].   Very few of our men are exposed, so the enemy wasted his ammunition; while our band continues its playing, all the more earnestly until all their shelling is over.

    Formation of Bands

    One way a regimental band was formed (and by far the cheapest), was by drawing upon the resources available from among the men in each company.  With ten companies to a regiment and two musicians allowed to each company—that is to say the fifers, buglers, and drummers—one could put together some kind of band of twenty men or more, if the officers agreed to detail to the regimental band musically qualified men who had not enlisted as musicians.

    The following was written by James M. Caswell in 1886 for S. Millet Thompson when Thompson was gathering information for this Regimental History of the 13th Infantry.

    “The Band of the Thirteenth was first organized at Concord, by selecting the two musicians belonging to each Company, which gave a membership of about twenty men to commence with. There were many changes.  The Band remained with the Regiment until Jan. 20, 1863, when it became a Brigade Band, with the understanding that the Band should always remain in the same brigade with the Thirteenth. This was done in justice to the 13th, who had contributed about $700 for the original purchase of the instruments. The Band thus remained with the Reg. nearly all the time, and came home with it at the last.

    “The Dirge most frequently played at funerals was the “Dead March in Saul”.   We played that march through nineteen times at the funeral of Lieut. Sanborn, who was shot by Dr. Wright of Norfolk.[*]  His remains had been sent home several days before this funeral was celebrated.  All the colored troops in the Department were present at the funeral and our Band was engaged to play by the First Regiment of U. S. colored troops.

    Emancipation Day:  March into Richmond April 1865

    The 13th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry is reputed to have had the first U.S. flags in the city of Richmond, Virginia on April 3, 1865.

    “The above items about the Band were furnished to the writer by Sgt. Chiles W. Washburn, who adds: 

     We had the good fortune to be in the first Division to enter Richmond, and to blow our horns.

    When the Band was mustered out of the service each man was given the instrument which he had used, and I have mine today.

    James M. Caswell: Civilian Life after the war 

    After the Civil War, James and his brother George owned and operated a billiard parlor on Main Street.  At the time, James was living on South Main St., married with two children.  By 1872 he had acquired enough capital to open a variety store on South St.  His business was so successful that in 1880 he moved into a bigger storefront in the wooden B.F.  Haley building just north of the Durgin block and neamed it Caswell’s Fancy Goods Store.  At the time he also purchased a parcel of land from the Estate of Dr. Kittredge.   

    In May 1883 he received his long-awaited military pension of $7.50 per month with arrears of $1,649 [2021 value of $42,527]. To build his Victorian mansion on the hill, he contracted Newmarket builders Gilbert Proctor and his son William (they had built the National Bank building at Main and Chapel Streets after the Great Fire of 1866).  Not surprisingly, the mansion took several years to build, from 1885 to 1889.  Mr. Caswell’s wife Amanda died suddenly in 1886, and never saw the completion of the entire estate.  By this time, his sons were grown and on their own.   James lived in the large house by himself. 

    He had an active social life, elected or appointed to several positions with the Grange, the Pascatoquak, Newmarket Outing Club, and Newmarket Agricultural Fair Committee.  Mr. Caswell wasespecially committed to the G.A.R. where he was commander for many years.  He represented the NH State G.A.R. Chapter at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and brought back several items which he put on display in his store.   He was very active with the Republican Party—at town, county and state levels.  And he was an expert gardener and prided himself on his vegetables and flowers which he often sold at his store, and later exhibited in the agricultural fairs. 

    In June 1879 the Newspaper printed the account of his intelligent prize hens, a copy is presented here.

    Despite his 4 years in a military band, there is no record of him joining the Newmarket Cornet Band, like other Civil War veteran musicians had done.  There is no record of him ever touching a musical instrument again. 

    In 1894 there was another fire in downtown Newmarket.  It originated in the Durgin store where ammunition exploded; it did extensive damage inside of all businesses in that block and the adjacent wooden B.F. Haley building where Mr. Caswell had his store.  Mr. Caswell lost everything in the fire, and decided not to rebuild his business, turning his attention instead to the extensive gardens and orchards at his home.   He now increased the time spent on his new job as Deputy Sheriff with the Rockingham County.  He had been hired the year before; it was a position he would hold for 18 years. 

    In November 1903 he fell off a ladder while installing storm windows at his home. He broke his hip and remained bedridden for several months.   Although he walked with a limp for the rest of his life due the fall, it did not deter him from his duties with the G.A.R., the Grange or local and county Republican politics or his position as Deputy Sheriff.   

     Two years later he hosted Boston’s Newmarket Club visit in his picnic grove, andf the paper reported at the time:  “…they proceeded to the beautiful grove in the rear of J. M. Caswell’s residence, which had been fitted up with swings, settees, etc., and on the edge of which, in the shade of the trees, ten long tables had been prepared… About 300 people were served with dinner…” 

    Published Newmarket Advertiser 7 April 1911:

    ‘James M. Caswell has been reappointed deputy sheriff for Rockingham County.  He is a veteran who is this year beginning his ninth term.  At the end of the present term, he will have been in office for 18 years.  Mr. Caswell has already served 16 years, or eight terms.  He is in active health, after having been the sufferer from a broken hip several years ago, but this misfortune, with the exception of slight limp, does not affect his activity.  He is one of the prominent citizens of Newmarket, and at one time engaged in business, being one of the merchants there for a period of 27 years.  He is a member of the George A. Gay Post, G.A.R., being in the 13th New Hampshire regiment, and is also prominent in many branches of life in town’.


    James died suddenly in March 1914 as soon as he sat down at the dining room table at 3:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon.  The caretaker, Mrs. Hamblin tried to revive him, but he died instantly.  The funeral was held at his home, and G.A.R. acted as pallbearers leading the procession to Riverside cemetery.

    James and Amanda Caswell had two children:  their first — Herbert J. (b.1863, d.1927) was born while James was away at war; their second — Charles (b.1866, d.1937) was born the year after James returned home.  Neither Herbert nor Charles had any children who survived them.


    Charles O. Caswell  

    graduated from Newmarket High School in 1884, he went on to college in Boston.   He then attended Dartmouth College, graduating in June 1890—after which he returned to town and completed the US Federal Census for the Town of Newmarket by the end of July that same year!

    In 1892 he married Frances Smith, who was a store clerk in Newmarket.  He became a teacher, and later on became an orthopedic physician, practicing in Portland, ME.   However, Charles returned home quite often, as he had invested in commercial property in town.  He purchased Ann Doe’s house on Main Street in April 1900 and had it completely renovated. He installed large plate glass windows, with new counters and walls of Georgian pine.  On the second floor were offices and a millinery shop.  And the entire building was outfitted with electricity!!!  

    Charles died June 1937 at age 70.  He is buried in Riverside cemetery.   It was only after his passing that the mansion ceased to be connected to James Caswell’s family.

    Herbert J. Caswell 

    worked as a member of the painting crew for the Newmarket Manufacturing Company.  In his youth he was an avid hunter; some of his bigger gamebirds he would stuff and display at his father’s store.  In 1888, he ran an eating house at Old Orchard Beach during the summer.  In 1890 he married Marcia Caswell and they moved to Greenland where he maintained a gunning/fishing camp on the Bay shoreline.  He and his wife later moved to Plymouth, MA where he worked as a painter and a commercial fisherman.  He was an insurance salesman at the time of his father’s death in 1914.  His wife died suddenly in September 1922 and was buried in the Caswell family plot in Riverside.  A year later he sold his home in Plymouth and moved to Pinellas, FL where he died in 1927.