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Monadnock Moment No. 185
Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation - 1763 to 1820
Winter in New Hampshire
When we think about turning up our furnaces for another New England winter, it is interesting to look back at the struggles of our ancestors as they spent their first winters in southern New Hampshire more than 240 years ago.
John Taggart and his family were the first permanent settlers in the town of Stoddard. The Taggart's built a log hut where they lived in what is now Stoddard Center village. All of the family's supplies were carried by hand through the forest from Peterborough. John Taggart carried his plow and Mrs. Taggart carried her spinning wheel eighteen miles to Stoddard. It is said that Mrs. Taggart dug the family well behind the house with her fire shovel. The nearest neighbors were several miles away.
On one occasion in the dead of winter Taggart delayed a trip for supplies because of deep snow and bitter cold. The weather did not improve, however, and when the supplies were depleted he began the eighteen mile trek through the snow. A blizzard struck just after he arrived in Peterborough. After three feet of snow fell and ten days passed, Taggart was finally able to begin his return trip to Stoddard. On the eleventh day he reached his dooryard. He was afraid to approach the house, however, for fear that he would find his family dead from starvation or exposure. He heard a voice from within the house and rushed inside to find his family safe and healthy. Family tradition indicates that Mrs. Taggart killed a moose with the ax to get meat for her children. In any case, they had survived on moose meat and the Taggart family survived the harsh winter in their log hut in the wilderness of Stoddard.