Exeter History Minutes

In each episode of this monthly video series, curator Barbara Rimkunas explores a fascinating aspect of Exeter, New Hampshire's history.

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One of the larger items in the collections of the Exeter Historical Society is our 18th-century English printing press. We are fortunate to have the printing press used in Exeter as well as many of the items printed on it. In this episode, Barbara provides an overview of Exeter's printing industry, including some of its surprising aspects.
Over its nearly 400 year history, many people have dumped many things into the Squamscott and Exeter Rivers. In this episode, Barbara highlights a few of the more interesting items found in the Exeter River in the last hundred years. This Exeter History Minute was generously sponsored by Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella, PLLC.
Our set of historic maps is a highlight of the Exeter Historical Society's collection of documents and artifacts. Dating as far back as 1802, our maps show the town through 200+ years of its nearly 400 year history. In this episode, Barbara examines our two 19th century Bird's Eye Maps, which are unique in their detailed (yet pristine) depiction of the town.
April is National Poetry Month and we are celebrating the life and poetry of Exeter-native James Monroe Whitfield. In this episode, Barbara explores the life of this man who, though named after a slave-holding president, expressed through powerful verse his fundamental belief in the injustice of slavery.
Exeter is fortunate to have been home to a number of impressive authors of fiction, at least at one point in their lives. In this episode, Barbara introduces the authors, a bit about them and their Exeter connections. (You may have heard of a few of them.)
Exeter's iconic Town Hall has hosted many a candidate for President, including - just to name a few - Abraham Lincoln, Bob Dole and Donald Trump. How did we come to have this beautiful landmark - and political lure - in the center of town, and what is the story with the statue on top?
Slavery was a "thing" in 18th century New Hampshire. Exeter has a number of interesting stories of people born into slavery - and their free black counterparts - in the early years of our history. In this episode, Barbara explores the story of Jude Hall, who, though born a slave, fought in the American Revolution and became a respected Exeter citizen.
What is that little brick building across the river from Swasey Parkway? What IS a powder house? In this episode, Barbara answers these questions and details some of the difficulties and triumphs in caring for this unique structure. This Exeter History Minute is generously sponsored by Foy Insurance, www.foyinsurance.com.
Amos Tuck was one of Exeter's most notable citizens. Tuck was a Dartmouth-trained lawyer, a member of Congress, a colleague and friend of Abraham Lincoln, and a founder of the Republican Party. Or was he? In this Exeter History Minute, Barbara explores the life and politics of Amos Tuck, including his whereabouts just days before a very important secret meeting.
Did you know that the artist who sculpted our 16th President for the national memorial was born in Exeter? Even though he only lived in town for the first ten years of his life, Daniel Chester French never forgot his hometown.
Did you know that Exeter had a debtor's prison? Or that the jail was unusually susceptible to the unauthorized flight of its inmates? In this episode, Barbara delves into the history of jails in Exeter while wearing her "Live Free or Die" historical society t-shirt. (It seemed appropriate, even if the state's motto isn't visible.)

In this episode of the Exeter History Minute, Barbara visits one of Exeter's early fire trucks ... in Phoenix, at the Hall of Flame Fire Museum! Tune in to hear all about the history of fire-fighting in Exeter and the fire trucks of old. This Exeter History Minute is generously sponsored by Foy Insurance.

In our fourth episode of "Hey, what is that thing", Barbara examines an odd pair of wooden bat-like objects, and much, much more!

In the late 19th century, Alice Chesley taught school and then worked in Exeter's probate office. In her 30s, she decided to study medicine, eventually becoming Exeter's first female doctor. In this episode, Barbara examines the twists and turns in Dr. Chesley's life, including her journey from teacher to physician.

In the dark early morning hours of September 3rd, 1965, several people – including two police officers – saw unexplained red lights over and around Exeter. This would come to be known as the "incident at Exeter." For the 50th anniversary of the "incident", Barbara explores this strange occurrence.

In February of 1860, Abraham Lincoln stepped off the train in Exeter, New Hampshire, to visit his son, a student at Phillips Exeter Academy. Lincoln's trip east became a turning point in his life and career; just three months later, he was the Republican nominee for president.
In 1929, a town philanthropist offered to create a beautiful parkway on the site of the town dump; a little more than two years later, the spot was transformed into a community gathering place. In the third episode of the Exeter History Minute Ambrose Swasey trilogy, Barbara tells the story of Swasey and our permanent "beauty spot," the Swasey Parkway.

The Swasey Pavilion – or the Exeter Bandstand, as it is commonly known – is more than just a place for the band to play. It's a work of art! Built in the summer of 1916, the bandstand was designed by Henry Bacon – the architect of the Lincoln Memorial – and gifted to the town by industrialist Ambrose Swasey.

In a re-make of our fourth Exeter History Minute, we explore the history of secondary education in Exeter. Why does Exeter have both Phillips Exeter Academy and Exeter High School? What was Robinson Female Seminary? Was the Seminary the same as Exeter Female Academy?
During Barbara's recent trip to Scotland, she reflected on the origins of some of Exeter's early families, including the Beans and the Gordons. Did you realize that some of these Scottish men came to Exeter as indentured servants because they were prisoners of war?

We have produced over eighty Exeter History Minutes. To see more episodes, visit our YouTube Channel.

The Exeter History Minutes are written and presented by curator Barbara Rimkunas and produced by program manager Laura Martin.