“J.H. Brown Had Icy Bath While Cutting Ice”

Ice tongs from the Bedford Historical Society collection.

From the Concord Enterprise newspaper, March 12, 1913
“J. H. Brown, Springs Rd, while cutting ice on his pond one day last week, had a narrow escape from drowning. He stepped on a loose piece of ice and touched bottom in seven feet of water. Eddie Temple, who was with him at the time, with great presence of mind, rushed to the spot where he had last seen Mr. Brown and when he arose to the surface, grabbed him by the coat collar and dragged him to safety. Mr. Brown is a Civil War veteran and the spryest man of his age in this town. He states that he suffered nothing from his involuntary bath in the icy waters.”

John Henry Brown (1844-1918) was a life-long resident of Bedford who served in the Civil War; he enlisted in 1864 and was assigned to the 6th Regiment of Company D. The United States Census lists Brown as a butcher in 1870 and 1880 and as a dairy farmer in 1900 and 1910. John’s younger brother was Abram English Brown, author of the History of the Town of Bedford (1891).

Brown may have used ice tongs like the ones pictures above to harvest ice; these tongs and other ice harvesting tools are part of the Bedford Historical Society collection. The postcard below is also from our collection and shows the Ice House on Wilson Mill Pond and the Shawsheen Meadows, c.1900.

Click here to learn more about the ice industry in Bedford.

Thanks to member Brian Oulighan for locating this newspaper article. Brian grew up in Bedford and now lives in Hudson, NH. Brian combs through old newspapers online for items related to Bedford history and sends them along to the Bedford Historical Society for our archives.