History lost: Fire destroys one of Epsom’s oldest homes
The barn is all that remains of a centuries-old home at 358 Black Hall Road in Epsom after a fire on Oct. 29. (Ruth Mariano Photo)
EPSOM - Early in the morning on Oct. 29, fire ravaged a cape-style home at 358 Black Hall Road. The history of that home, however, will continue on in the hearts and minds of those who’ve lived in Epsom.
An official at the Epsom Fire Department confirmed that the residents, Eric Reeves, his wife Kathryn, and their pet dog all made it from the home safely.
Investigator Bill Clark from the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s office said no specific cause for the fire could be identified.
“There was too much damage to be conclusive,” he said, but there are “plenty of accidental fire causes.”
Although this fire has been categorized as “undetermined,” Clark said the Fire Marshal’s office didn’t have any suspicion of criminal intent and no evidence of it being intentionally set.
The home itself dates back centuries, according to T.J. Rand of the Epsom Historical Society, although the date is not certain. He points to the discrepancy with the tax map that dates the house back to 1794, yet records indicate that the land was bought by John Yeaton in 1807. He explained that the farm originally belonged to Samuel T. Yeaton, who bought the property from William Yeaton, probably his father, with buildings in 1821. Rand said he believes that son James C. Yeaton actually built the house that burned.
Mrs. Glenna Nutter of Epsom, whose father was Pete Yeaton, said the farm had been in his family for many years. Nutter lived across the road from what was then a two-family house, she said, where her grandmother and great aunt used to live. Nutter recalls her two brothers working on the farm while she did vegetable gardening with her mother.
“It’s a house that was always in the Yeaton family,” she said. “There were several Yeaton families who built six or seven capes on Black Hall Road, and we lived in one of them,” she said. The house she lived in was built around 1780 or 1790, she said. Back then, “the homes were all connected – houses, sheds, barns,” she said, “so the people didn’t have to go out at night to do the chores in the barn in the bad weather.”
She said she recently drove by the farm on Saturday, Nov. 3, “and it’s been completely cleaned up. It’s all graded. Only the barn and silo remain.”
The home is now owned by Eric Reeves, whom Nutter said is the grandson of her father’s second wife.
“My father grew up there and his father, as well, and I think his grandfather and possibly his great-grandfather,” she said.
Of growing up in Epsom, Nutter says, “life was much simpler then, … with no TV or that sort of thing.”
She still has memories of her grandmother “baking cookies and custards and making ginger tea if you had a tummy ache.”
She also recalled that they had a lot of chickens.
“Lots of people in Epsom back then had hens and chickens,” she said. “We used to go out and collect the eggs at the hen house as a child.”
Her grandmother also had “a very nice piano” and had “lots of music that she played at times,” although she didn’t like “the modern music of the ’40s.”
Nutter remembers the Sweet William flowers in her grandmother’s garden. “I still treasure them and grow them myself,” she said
Perhaps, if Reeves decides to rebuild, some of those memories may be restored. For now, however, they live in Glenna Nutter’s memories, along with the fragrance of her grandmother’s Sweet William flowers, tending the chickens, and ginger tea for her tummy.
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