Mr. Thomas has been lecturing on a wide variety of New England historical topics since 1974. He has published 14 history books and assisted with numerous others. His topic in Newfields will be “HISTORIC POWDER HOUSES OF NEW ENGLAND – ARSENALS OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.”
The slide show presentation will inform listeners about the fascinating history of these little-known landmarks that dot the New England countryside.
Mr. Thomas has discovered the existence of 203 powder houses in New England that housed guns, ammunition and other military equipment dating back to 1637. Many of these powder houses suffered devastating explosions killing dozens of people, and were the occasional sites of murders, hangings and duels. Most notably, it was the British march to the Concord, Massachusetts powder house that was the final straw that ignited the American Revolution on April 19, 1775 during the Battles of Lexington & Concord. There are only 54 powder houses still standing throughout New England, many of them made of brick, wood or granite. Because so many were built in remote sections of town in case of explosion, these fascinating landmarks are largely forgotten and unknown — yet they played a significant and useful role in establishing and maintaining American Independence for nearly 200 years.
Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to learn about the many intriguing and little-known powder houses that were the scene of riots, military drills, and explosions that devastated the nearby countryside.
Learn about the Exeter, Portsmouth, Concord, New Castle, Candia, Hampton Falls, Amherst and Haverhill, New Hampshire powder houses as well as those in other New England states. Hear about the traumatic 4th of July 1809 Powder House explosion that killed 14 holiday spectators and injured many others in tiny New Castle, NH — scene of the first overt act of the American Revolutionary War when 350 New Hampshirites attacked and captured the British-held Fort William & Mary in December 1774. Had a New Hampshire patriots’ gun not misfired during the 1774 attack when aimed right at the head of one of six British soldiers protecting the fort — New Castle, NH and not Lexington & Concord, MA — would have been the site of the first blood spilled during the American Revolutionary War and the “shot heard round the world,” would have echoed from the rocky shoreline of New Castle, N.H. and not from the rolling countryside of Massachusetts.