"Never Had to Wear Glasses," Says Mildred Brown Stowe

{85 Years Old Friday}

By Jan Bryant

Hampton Union, Thursday, October 6, 1971,

Mildred Brown Stowe

HAMPTON -- A charming senior citizen of our town will celebrate her eighty-fifth birthday this Friday, October 8.

Mildred Brown Stowe, 394 Winnacunnet Road, says, "Birthdays frighten me now -- to think I'm still around." She is very much around, however, although slowed down a little by arthritis.

The first-born child of Moses W. and Carrie (Palmer) Brown, she was born in 1886 in her grandmother Palmer's home in the neighborhood of the old [Pine Grove] cemetery on Winnacunnet Road.

She had a brother, Albert, born in 1889 and a sister, Pauline, born in 1890.

Mildred graduated from Hampton Academy in 1904, one of the five graduates that year and now the only remaining one. She gave the class history at graduation ceremonies and has since donated an autographed copy of the program to the Tuck Memorial Museum.

Only the first floor of the small Academy was used at that time, housing the principal's office and all classes. She believes the upstairs was used for meetings, "although I wasn't very interested at the time."

Following graduation from Hampton, Mildred attended Newburyport (Mass.) High School in 1905 to take a few courses not offered in Hampton.

In 1906 she registered for a six-month course in secretarial duties at Salem Commercial in Salem, Mass. The first three months she lived at home, commuting by train. When bad weather set in she boarded at school during the week, returning to Hampton on weekends.

Piano Factory

Her father, Moses, was a trained brick mason and piano tuner, but his real talent was as a piano maker. He worked for a Boston piano firm for a number of years and learned his trade well.

Around the turn of the century he built his own piano factory at the Winnacunnet Road homestead.

"My father did it all, from the frame up," Mrs. Stowe says, "his own stringing, everything." He had no outside help, but his first-born daughter did her share.

She varnished, glued the bars to the sounding boards and did all her father's bookkeeping. She also taught piano lessons, giving a recital each June. Mildred Brown was about twenty years old by this time.

The first Brown Piano made was sold and sent to a home in North Adams, Mass. Aside from selling the pianos, Mr. Brown later did quite a business in renting them, with his daughter doing the book work which included the scheduling of deliveries, pickups, etc.

The bulk of the renting business was at Hampton Beach with what Mrs. Stowe calls the "summer trade." Many families living there wanted the use of a piano for the summer.

Moses Brown had other little things to keep him occupied besides the piano business: He owned a bicycle repair shop and had his own ice house and sawmill on the homestead grounds.

Around fifty acres of land still remain within the family. The piano factory has been made into apartments as has the main house.

Mrs. Stowe lives in a pleasant apartment which was originally part of the barn. It has a lovely fireplace built by her father.

In her younger years, Mrs. Stowe was an enterprising young lady. She and her brother, now deceased, went into partnership and set up gas pumps in the front yard of their home.

Almost immediately World War I broke out and her brother enlisted in the Marines. She "bought him out" and ran the business herself for eight years.

Used Snowshoes

She remembers donning her snowshoes after work in the winter months and walking through the family fields; the same land that is now pretty much taken up with new housing developments. These were the days of walking downtown and knowing everyone she met. Mrs. Stowe says she doesn't recognize a soul these days.

As Mildred Brown, she went to Florida in the winter of 1920 and there, on Christmas Day, met Orla Stowe of Stockbridge, Michigan.

The couple fell in love and were married the following November in a small ceremony at her family home in Hampton.

The couple left for Michigan and lived there for 42 years until Mr. Stowe passed way in 1964. Mrs. Stowe remained one more year and then returned to Hampton to be nearer her relatives.

Orla Stowe was a farmer and his wife helped him out by feeding eighteen farm hands two meals a day during the harvest season. Grains were the main crop on the 390 acre farm and sheep and Holstein cattle were kept.

Due to Mrs. Stowe's health they had to rent the farm after a few years, and then spent 35 winters in Florida. The couple traveled quite a bit, but Mrs. Stowe says, "I never got to California."

In 1953 she was diagnosed as having a ruptured appendix and peritonitis had developed. She spent nine weeks in the hospital with around the clock private nurses. "I was never sick until then," Mrs Stowe comments. "I was blessed with wonderful health."

During those years in Michigan, Mrs. and Mrs. Stowe annually returned to Hampton for a summer visit,

She now lives alone with her pet cat for company, but is well watched over by relatives.

Her grand niece and namesake, Mildred [Wright] Gregory, lives next door with her family. Three-year-old Christine Gregory is a frequent and welcome visitor.

Seven-year-old Danny Gregory was quite excited when he and his classmates visited Tuck Memorial Museum last year and saw a Brown Piano on display.

Mrs. Stowe's niece, Nancy [Wright] Pacheco, also lives nearby with her family. Another niece, Sally [Brown] Walker, lives in North Hampton with her family and teaches third grade at Marston School.

There are two more nieces in Portsmouth and a nephew in Baltimore, Md.

Mrs. Stowe enjoys reading and seems proud "never to have worn glasses." She prepares her own meals, watches television, tries to keep up correspondence with friends and is taken for automobile rides.

Friends come to visit. One favorite, Mrs. Virulent Olen, lives nearby and was a schoolmate and attended her wedding.

Mrs. Stowe still plays the piano "for my own amusement" although her arthritis hampers this at times.

Mildred Brown Stowe is a lovely lady. Happy Birthday!!!!


Obituary of Mildred B. Stowe

Hampton Union, August 29, 1973

HAMPTON -- Mildred B. Stowe, 86, 394 Winnacunnet Road, died Friday [August 24, 1973] at Exeter Hospital after a long illness. She was the wife of the late Orla A. Stowe.

She was born in Hampton October 8, 1886, a daughter of the late Moses and Carrie (Palmer) Brown. Mrs. Stowe was graduated from Hampton Academy with the class of 1904. She spent most of her life in Michigan and Florida, returning to Hampton eight years ago. She had been a music teacher in Hampton schools over 40 years ago.

She is survived by a nephew, Albert B. Wright of Hampton; four nieces, Mrs. Leo Pacheco of Hampton; Mrs. Carl Walker of North Hampton; Mrs. Russell Corbin of Exeter; and Mrs. Gordon Corbin of Portsmouth; several grand nieces and nephews.

She is also survived by a step-daughter, Mrs. Rosemond Dyer of Fowlerville, Mich.

Private funeral services were conducted Monday at the Ronald A. Remick Funeral Home, the Rev. John F. Scruton, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Hampton, officiating. Committal services were conducted Tuesday at the Stowe family lot in Wright Cemetery, Iosco County, Michigan.

[See more of Moses W. Brown here.]