In 1978, my parents packed up their successful careers in Gaithersburg, Maryland and moved their young family to central Vermont to be closer to family and to enjoy a safer, simpler lifestyle. My mother discovered an interesting neighbor around the corner. Her name was Thelma Lathrop and she was a true Vermont character. Their friendship included Bingo, animals, homemade jams and long visits. As a thank you gesture for some help with a project, Thelma gave my mother a small rocking chair. The rocking chair rested in a corner, holding a blanket my mother had crocheted, and watched us grow up and move away.
My siblings and I had all settled in the surrounding Monadnock region and in 2010, my parents also made the move to Keene, New Hampshire. One of my mother’s new neighbors was a chair caner. During a visit, she noticed the little rocking chair and commented that it was a “Keene Chair”. She recognized the distinctive knobs on the backrest. She gave a little background that there had been a chair factory in Munsonville, New Hampshire in the mid 1800’s and the chairs were then sent to Keene for finishing. My mom was so pleased that the little chair had come back to Keene where it had been finished long ago. She tucked that serendipitous story away with the many she had collected.
Pepin Home (upper right) Overlooking Chair Factory
In 2018, we purchased a home in Munsonville that was in desperate need of repair. Between long days of laboring, I spent some time at the Historical Society of Cheshire County and discovered that our house, built in 1800 on the Millpond, overlooked a chair factory that sent its chairs to Keene for finishing. When I recounted this fact to my mom, she exclaimed that the little chair from Thelma Lathrop was indeed a Keene Chair! My mother believed that Keene was where the chair had wanted to go but in fact, it had one final leg left on long journey. This sweet little chair had finally found its way home and now rests comfortably overlooking the millpond where it was built.
A Related Story
The cross-stitched sampler that Sophia Griffin created as an eleven-year-old girl in Packersfield in 1801 has come home to Nelson. This is a story of an old Nelson family; interest in family heritage and local history, the marvel of communication that the Internet can be and the generosity of Nancy and Ray Foster. A sampler …