life in the Kearsarge area

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Archive for Bradford

Summer in NH


Here I am, walking lakeside in North Sutton. Cell phone in hand, I snap a few photos of Kezar Lake, the dam and Wadleigh State Park.

It’s what I do most summers. I have time after dropping the kids off at their respective camps. I don’t particularly want to haul my laptop with me, so I take photos for Facebook, Pinterest and my enjoyment. I’ll include a few here to get you in the summer mood.




Rustic Remedies

Every so often, Kearsarge Magazine runs a feature with funny items from history. This one came in too late for 2014-2-15’s feature, but we saved it because we liked it. You can also read more by clicking


“Geez, Phil, you look like death warmed over!” This is what Lester Hall had to say when young Dick MacLeod drove his ailing father up for a final visit in 1940. His dad had lost over 50 pounds due to digestive failure and had been sent home from the Veteran’s Hospital to die. “Go see Doc Sias up back on Rowe Mountain. He’ll fix you up.” Doc Sias tied Phil’s feet to the cot, put a strap around his head, and commenced to stretching out his body. Later, he prescribed cold showers and hot meals of steeped fresh-mown hay. In about six weeks he recovered and lived to be 88 years old.

Now, all this hay harvesting kicked up Dick’s hay fever. Doc’s remedy? “Buy a dozen watermelons. When you get thirsty, eat watermelon. When you get hungry, eat watermelon. Then take a spoonful of local honey with a spoonful of apple cider and that’ll keep the hay fever down.” It worked!

Doc’s success stemmed from common sense, acute observational skills, and an appreciation for herbal lore. A girl named Audrey came up from Peabody, Mass., to seek a cure for her leukemia. Doc Sias determined that she needed a catalyst of copper to help her body absorb iron. Since he used copper sulfate to fight the potato bugs, he fed her a steady diet of spuds and she recovered. He was also known to cure severe skin ulcers with a poultice of cabbage leaves. People in town said “he could cure almost anything.”

Illness was a persistent aspect of early life in small towns like Bradford, NH. Many diaries recount grisly tales ranging from smithy tooth extractions to kitchen table surgeries. Early doctors had to mix their own medicines and make do with what was on hand. Bradford’s earliest doctor was Dr. William Martin who began his practice here in 1795. Another early physician was Dr. Jason Howard Ames who lived on Main Street and drove a white horse with a gig to serve outlaying homesteads. When he fell ill during the small pox epidemic in 1848, a fresh recruit named Dr. Cyrus Fisk rose to the occasion. He acted as both nurse and physician at the “pest house” set up on the west end of town to contain contagion. He did this despite the fact he had just been married and often joked about his unusual honeymoon.

Many colorful and dedicated doctors have lived in Bradford over the year. Some locals remember Dr. Anne Wasson who made doctor dolls to teach health skills. Dr. Ira Weston wrote the poem “The Hills of South Bradford.” Dr. Carey “removed a large suspender button from the nose of Master Arthur Peaslee on Feb. 20, 1891. The young man had carried the button in that receptacle since last November.”

— By Laurie Buchar, Bradford Historical Society