An Evening with Jane Pierce

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Kelley Library Adult Series better known as KLAS along with the Salem Historical Society presented a fun and educational evening Tuesday featuring Virginia Gerseny portraying Jane Pierce, wife of our 14th U. S. President Franklin Pierce.  Mrs. Gerseny, a Pierce Brigade member, dedicated volunteer and tour guide at the Franklin Pierce Manse holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Dramatic Arts and was music major as well.  She is a former professional costumer who has also produced and directed in theater. 

She spent quite a bit of time researching Jane Pierce after realizing not much was known about New Hampshire’s only First Lady.  Wearing a replica of a very pretty blue 19th century dress owned by Jane Pierce, Mrs. Gerseny presented a dramatic interpretation of the former First Lady telling the viewers her life story.  Her storytelling was remarkable and went on as if she was Jane there telling us how she lived.  The following information was learned about Jane Pierce.

Born on March 12, 1806, Jane Means Appleton was the youngest daughter of a Congregational minister, the Reverend Jesse Appleton, also the president of Bowdoin College.  She was a very thin and frail girl who was often not well and very fragile all of her life.  When Jane was just 11 years old, her father passed away and her mother moved them to Amherst, New Hampshire.  In 1826, at her sister’s wedding she met Mr. Franklin Pierce, a young lawyer with political ambition.  He was introduced to her as Jane; however, from that moment on he called her “Jeanie.”  He was immediately very devoted to her however, she would not commit to marry him for another eight years.  In 1834 Franklin Pierce and Jane Appleton married in her mother’s parlor.  Her family opposed this match because they were a wealthy, proper, and religious family, while he was a laidback, social man who was born in a log cabin and then grew up in a family owned tavern. 

They went on to move to Washington, D. C. where he was serving in the U. S. Senate.  Jane despised Washington as it was nothing like New England.  Jane became very unhappy living in a boarding house in D. C.  After learning she was with child, Jane moved back to New Hampshire to stay with her mother.  Mr. Pierce stayed in Washington to work.  Jane spent most of her pregnancy very weak and on bed rest.  When she had her baby boy she named him after his father.  However, baby Franklin only lived for two days.  Mr. Pierce never got to see his first-born child.  They were blessed again though with another baby boy.  Little Frankie as they called him was a joy to the both of them.  He was healthy and active, and was a very smart little boy.  After the birth of this child, still grieving the loss of their two-day-old baby, and knowing that Jane was unhappy in Washington, Franklin Pierce retired from the Senate at the height of his career in 1842. 

Unfortunately, when little Frankie was only four he contracted typhus.  One week later he passed away in Jane’s arms.  They also had another son, Benjamin or Benny as they called him.  He, too, was an exceptional little blessing to this very devoted couple.  He was known to speak in large words like his father and was quite intelligent for a little boy.  He went on growing, thriving and learning as a perfectly healthy child.

When Mr. Pierce left Congress he wanted to practice law, not be elected into office again.  However, in 1852 the Democratic Party made Franklin Pierce their candidate for President, much to Jane and Benny’s dismay.  While enjoying a horse and carriage ride the couple and their son heard someone yell out to them “Mr. Pierce, you’ve been nominated for United States President!”  Benny cried and Jane fainted.  The now president elect assured Jane that serving as president would be an asset for Benny’s success in life.

That Christmas season they decided to take a train ride from Concord to Keene.  This was to be an enjoyable short family trip to celebrate Franklin Pierces’ win in the election for U. S. President.  Sadly the train car they were riding in derailed, rolled down an embankment and Benny was killed before their eyes.  The entire nation shared in their grief.  The presidential inauguration on March 4, 1853, took place without an inaugural ball and without the presence of Mrs. Pierce.  Jane never fully recovered from this loss.  She wrote thousands of letters to her deceased son Benny.  (However, no one would know this until after she died.)  When they moved into the White House she draped it in black because she was mourning the only son she had left. 

During the mourning period, the First Lady could not attend any “State” occasion, only private functions.  When the one-year mourning period was almost over, her close friend Abby and also Jefferson Davis’ wife Varina, another close friend of Jane’s, talked her out of keeping up the mourning.  They encouraged her to end the mourning, wear a beautiful white satin dress with black lace, and accompany her handsome President to the State dinner.  Jane did exactly that.

When election time came around again four years later, Jane did not want her husband to get re-elected.  She wanted to go home back to New Hampshire.  To her joy and his dismay, he lost the election of 1857.  Our new president was now President Buchanan.  Jane went back to Concord with her close friend Abby, and the now former President Pierce stayed in Washington for a while.  When he returned home to Concord, the two agreed to a vacation to Europe.  This vacation ended up lasting three years and the couple enjoyed their time together very much.  It was probably the happiest time they had spent together.  She felt healthy for the first time in her life and he enjoyed her happiness. 

Just before Christmas of 1863 Jane Pierce died from pneumonia.  She was 63 years old.  She was buried next to her son Benny.  Six years later former President and beloved husband to Jane, Franklin Pierce joined his family in heaven.  He also was buried with his wife and young children. 

What a Weekend!

by Len Lathrop

After four members of the Salem High School softball team graduated on Grant Field Friday evening with fireworks ending that event, little did they know what lay ahead of them for Saturday. 

When they awoke on Saturday, the 2:30 p.m. NHIAA Class L State Softball Finals loomed large.  This trip to Memorial Field in Concord, being their fourth in post-season play, in search of another title, had to wait however, as the graduates’ final fame was postponed in the third inning Saturday, June 2 and picked up on Sunday, June 3 due to rain and an electrical storm in the area.  This day was to be different for the (23 – 1) Blue Devils as the strength that had given them success all season emerged.  Scoring in the bottom of the first inning, covering the field defensively and strong pitching on the road to the final, saw them defeat Nashua South 1 – 0 at home.  Then they faced the Keene Blackbirds at Memorial Field in the rain/lightning delayed game, winning 4 – 3, not scoring the final run until the extra eighth inning. 

Thursday the 7th was another 1 – 0 Salem win over Dover, thus bringing on continued rival Londonderry for the 2:30 p.m. showdown.

On Saturday, in the first inning, Brenna Morrissey drew a walk, the catcher Katie Bettencourt stroked a two strike triple past the right fielder, and Morrissey scored.  Casey Stoodley grounded out allowing Bettencourt to come home and with this 2 – 0 score, Salem never lost the lead.

Things unraveled slightly for (20 – 3) Londonderry in the third, when Salem, after two errors, a walk and a wild pitch, saw the scoreboard showing 3 – 0 in favor of Salem.  Londonderry’s lone tally came in the top of the fourth, however, Salem answered in the fifth when a Bettencourt double scored Alex Gallant, and then Erica DePinto singled Bettencourt to the plate for the 5 – 1 victory.

In this the eighth championship in 10 years and the 13th title for Head Coach Harold Sachs, the Blue Devils used three pitchers, who combined to hold Londonderry to only three hits.  Alex Gallant went the first four, Emily Wolf came in for the fifth and Chelsea Durso closed the sixth and seventh  “We decided before the game that we were going to use all three girls,” said Sachs in post-game comments.  “I told the team on the bus we’ve done this in the regular season, and I had confidence in all of them.”  Sachs now holds a record of 426 – 56 in his 22 years at Salem High School.  SHS Principal William Hagen noted at the game, “He (Sachs) is a great coach and equally as great a teacher; the players respect him.”

In the second inning, Salem freshman Megan St. Pierre made a spectacular, near diving catch in center field on an Elizabeth McNamara hit which saved one and possibly two runs for Londonderry.

Watch for the Lady Blue Devils to be back in tournament play next year.  With the only seniors starting Saturday being Casey Stoodley, and both relievers Wolf and Durso and catcher Amanda Norton, this leaves 13 returning for next year.

A Sea of Blue and White

by Katelyn Haggerty

Sean Collins directs the Salem High School band during graduation.

On the evening of June 8, Salem High School’s Class of 2007 was together for the last time.  At the high school’s Grant Field, at 7 p.m., the front stage was decorated, 511 chairs were set up, and school officials were waiting.  The boys were in blue, the girls were in white as the graduates started making their way past thrilled faculty, family, and friends, and onto the field.  Family and friends filled stands, bleachers, surrounding grass, or anywhere that would offer a view of the graduates.

After the band played the traditional Pomp and Circumstance while the graduates took the field, all in attendance remained standing.  Salem High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Core (JROTC) presented the Colors as the Honors Chorus sang The Star Spangled Banner.  Brian D. White, the vice president for the class of 2007, then led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Director Ellen Bosch conducted the Honors Chorus as they sang Sail Away, an appropriate selection in honor of the graduating seniors.

  Principal William P. Hagen introduced guests and gave opening remarks to begin the ceremony.  Hagen thanked the class for their manner of conduct, examples set for others, and memories throughout the years.  His advice to the graduates was that they hold their own destinies, but that happiness is the key to success.  Hagen wished the class good luck, health, and success in life.

Salutatorian Zachary D. Lucius then approached the stage, feeling, he said, “like the runner up in a Miss America pageant.”

Besides adding a bit of humor to the ceremony, Lucius told his classmates to take away something real from high school by keeping friendships made over the years.  He asked his class to really make the effort to stay in touch and keep those connections.  In life, he asked his class to use their failures as trophies to always remember.

The Salem High School band then took the floor, or grass, as they played their final song with the seniors.  Seniors Sean Collins, Kristine Boucher, and Christopher Correia conducted the band during the song Gna Gna, which was met with huge applause as the last notes were played.

Lauren A. Gianino, third in the graduating class, read the Class Essay.  Gianino described the journey from childhood to adulthood; how dreams made as a child were thought to be unrealistic as an adult.  However, she said, one must do things that make oneself happy.  Gianino’s advice to the class was to find their goals over time, but more importantly, to follow bliss.

Valedictorian for the Class of 2007 was Shawnna M. Prendergast.  Prendergast, a Health Occupations student and future nurse, illustrated the voyage from freshmen to senior as the trip that blood cells take through the heart.  Through this journey, she said, the future began to form and goals were made.  Prendergast told her class that each person is unique, with each person’s destination a different one.  However, she pointed out that each person works together to make one body, or one world, work. 

Her advice to the class was to find their own pulse for life and follow their hearts.  At the end of her speech, Prendergast asked each person in the graduating class to use two fingers to find their pulses and raise their arms above their heads.  Once everyone had their arms raised, she said, “There’s the beat, let’s go.”

Principal Hagen took the stage once again to acknowledge students’ awards and scholarships.  Hagan asked the seniors that collected a total of $6,560,217 in college scholarships and grants to stand and be recognized.  He then asked all seniors that will be serving the country to stand and be recognized.

Senior Class President Daniel S. Caredeo reminded the seniors of all the memories made in high school that will last forever.  Caredeo talked about proving themselves as underclassmen, the help they received from staff, and finally opening acceptance letters after all the hard work had been done.  He told the class that now they have all the right tools to fulfill their futures.

Before the presentation of diplomas, Superintendent Michael W. Delahanty gave the seniors some advice.  Delahanty told them that there is no need to worry or be nervous about their futures.  He said to always remember that “life is tough, but you have to be tougher.”

The diplomas were then presented, and the seniors became graduates.  At the end of the ceremony, the band played the 1812 Overture as fireworks were set off over the field. 

Hedgehog Park Opened for Season

by Jay Hobson

Lifeguard Brennan Natoli, 18 (front), and Beach Attendant Michael Cole, 18 (rear), watch over Hedgehog Park’s Pond.

Hedgehog Park on Route 38 in Salem opened June 9 for a season of fishing, swimming and picnicking fun.  A season pass for residents is $20 per family or $10 for the single season pass per person.  Day rates are $2 per person and $5 for families.

Non-residents can also visit the park.  Non-resident rates are $50 for the family season pass; $4 per person or $10 per family day passes, with Saturday and Sunday, non-resident passes at $6 per person and $15 per family.

Swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty and inflatable floatation devices are not permitted.  Hours are Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6:30 p.m.

For more information, call the Recreation Department at 890-7709 or visit

17 Executive Drive, Suite One, Hudson, NH 03051 Phone: (603)880-1516 Fax: (603)879-9707
email: Copyright © 2005-2009 Area News Group