ANOTHER "GREAT BOTTLE DIGGING STORY" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
LUCINDA'S ROCK PILE
by Peter Samuelson
About a mile or so Northwest of Duncan Lake in the town of Ossipee, New Hampshire of Pollys Crossing. Polly Allen was one of the inhabitants of this small community.
The Boston and Maine Railroad or Great Falls and Conway Railroad as it was called in 1872 passes through this area. The old Coach road crosses the railroad near where Polly Allen lived - thus the name Pollys Crossing.
The original settlers were the Abbotts. They built homes on the hills above the railroad. They came here in 1815.
In November of 1996 I decided to visit what remains of this settlement. I love history, especially the time period from about 1820 until the turn of the century. Cellar holes, cemeteries and old bottles really fascinate me. Pollys Crossing was an ideal place to visit.
Most of the land had recently been logged for its stands of oak and mixed hardwoods. The ancient wagon paths were difficult to follow. The loggers had pushed everything around with their bulldozers and logging skidders.
The Abbott cellar hole.
After an hour or so of following old stone walls, I located the first of several cellar holes. Near the back of an old foundation I noticed a small pile of rusted metal and broken glass. Also there was a 1970's soda can. Obviously someone had been here before - most likely looking for artifacts and bottles.
I poked around the outskirts of the property where I found another heap of broken glass. This too had been looked at by other people.
A quarter mile up the old path, I spotted a cellar hole. This one looked more interesting to me. There were several split granite foundations off to the side of the main cellar hole. These small foundations were outbuildings that were separate from the main house. Often, these buildings were blacksmith shops, sap houses or places to house animals.
Quite often these outbuildings had holes in the floors. The old timers found this to be a handy way to hide their trash - heave it down the hole. Time and time again I have found bottles within the confines of these foundations.
By using a three-foot spring probe I began poking around the largest of the outbuildings. I located many old cans and lots of broken glass. This place appeared to have been dug several years prior. Some of the broken bottles would have been dandies. I found pieces of peppersauce bottles, whiskeys and 1850's glass from the Stoddard, New Hampshire glass works. There were also pieces of medicine bottles from the 1880's -1890's. What a nice pile of colored glass - all busted!
|The cemetery. (right) Lucinda's tombstone.|
The day was quite chilly. The temperature was in the 40's with a strong Northwest wind. I needed to warm up.
Finding a place in the sun, I sat down and tried to enjoy a cold Vienna Sausage sandwich and a bottle of grapefruit juice. Some warm soup would have been more appropriate. Not being able to warm up, it seemed like a good idea to move around.
Directly below me there was a large rock pile and a shallow ravine. This looked like a good place to use the probe. Perhaps some trash had been thrown here years ago.
After about ten minutes of testing the area with the probe, I located some glass near the lower end of the ravine. It was time to dig.
The first bottle recovered was a common 1890's medicine. Before long, several more bottles appeared - household stuff and ugly wine bottles. They were all buried in the soil, about eight inches deep.
Heading up the ravine, I came upon lots of broken cast iron and pieces of molasses and whiskey jugs. All this ended at the base of the pile of rocks.
The rock pile was covered with a shallow layer of soil, moss and leaves. It didn't appear to hold much promise.
Cornucopia - Urn flask, circa
Using my digger (potato rake), I started pulling away the soil from the rocks. What a surprise I had!
In the pile of dirt and leaves was an undamaged Dr. Langleys Root and Herb Bitters, 76 Union St. Boston. It was aqua in color and from the 1850 era. It had lain directly on top of the rocks. I couldn't believe it wasn't damaged.
I continued on towards a larger sugar maple tree near the top of the rock pile. Pulling away soil from around the base of the tree, I noticed the lip of a bottle sticking out from under a large root. Carefully, I removed the rocks and dirt from what appeared to be another whole bottle. Out it came!
In my hands I held another Dr. Langleys. This one was a beauty! The bottle was a very rich aqua color. It was clean, undamaged and very crude. The glass held hundreds of bubbles. It was embossed 99 Union St. Boston with the 99 backwards.
The two Dr. Langley's Root & Herb Bitters
By this time, the sun was no more. It was late in the afternoon and I thought of heading for home. Something told me to take a few more minutes and re-probe the lower end of the ravine.
Within a short time I felt the probe hit some glass. Using a screwdriver and a small digging tool, I dug around what I thought was just a broken side-panel of a bottle. It was very dirty. All I could see was what looked like some rough embossing.
Gently brushing off the dirt, I then realized what I had. It was a Cornucopia - Urn flask, the pint size. It was olive amber in color with an open pontil. This particular piece was hand-blown in Coventry, Connecticut about 1830. Needless to say, I was very pleased.
Not being totally happy, I dug into the rest of the rock pile. All I found was a common whiskey flask and a few damaged 1890's medicines. This was it for the day.
During the hike back to my car, I came upon a small cemetery. There were several small stones with initials only and one large stone. The large stone was that of Mrs., who at one time lived at the old farm.
Her name was Lucinda. She was the wife of John F. Abbott. Lucinda died, April 29, 1873. She was 53. Her husband John must have abandoned the place in later years. He is not buried in the little cemetery.
Since November 1996, I have returned to this area several times. I have not found any more bottles, but the old foundations and the little cemetery give me much peace.
Lucinda quite possibly handled the beautiful bottles many years ago. I visit with her in the cemetery and thank her for throwing the bottles out in the winter months. They would not have survived if she had done so in the summer.
Lucinda's rock pile was good to me. I shall return.....
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