December 2011: Hannah Davis and Her Boxes| Notes Archive


Those of us who live in the Monadnock Region here in NH have a special affection for "Aunt Hannah." She was born and lived her life in nearby Jaffrey, in the shadow of the mountain that gives this area its name. She is buried in the old graveyard behind the early church on the green.

An early 19th c. maiden lady with the skills of a fine entrepreneur, she made hatboxes for the mill-working girls who coveted fancy bonnets. Since they were captive at their mill jobs, she harnessed a horse to a wagon, and peddled them to the girls on their lunch breaks.  


Her story is riveting, but her boxes say it all. They were hand made to endure, and endure many of them did. Hannah's boxes have wooden bases and lids and are lined with period newspaper from around her hometown of Jaffrey, NH.

The box pictured here is the largest size available, and on it Napoleon is consulting with one of his officers. Hannah was one of many New Englanders who sympathized with Napoleon and she memorialized him on more than one box.

Another example is pictured in the Shelburne Museum wallpaper box book, and this particular paper is mentioned on a box in the Shelburne collection.