If you haven’t read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, you should. The Nashua Historical Society’s textile collection includes three pair of ladies’ stockings probably sold as souvenirs for the Chicago World’s Fair at the cost of $.50/pair from Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., downtown Chicago. We surmise that the stocking owners travelled to the fair in 1893 at the same time serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett, aka Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, was doing his dirty work.
The stockings are black cotton knit with “World’s Fair Chicago 1893” knitted into the top band. Each pair was manufactured in a contrasting color of blue-green, pink or bright orange. The manufacturer’s name appears on the toe area as a stamp but being nearly invisible, we believe it reads as Louis Hernsdorf & Son, Germany. Our interpretation of the knitted design presents a somewhat modern or industrial ideal of high-rise buildings and an abstract railroad track.
The owner of the orange pair, Fannie E. Weston, worked as a Lawyer’s secretary on Main Street most of her life. She was born in Amherst in 1862 and died in Nashua in 1960 at 98 years of age. She and 4 of her siblings lived at 24 Hall Avenue in Nashua.
Bertha Harris Colburn owned the other two pair of stockings. Having been born in 1882, we suspect that Bertha’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harris, might have visited Chicago in 1893 and purchased the stockings at that time. We do not know if she travelled with them. They owned the Harris Farm in Nashua. Later, Bertha and her husband, Merle Custer Colburn, were proprietors of the Gage Hotel, their home at 2 Olive Street in Nashua. She was born September 17, 1882 and died May 8, 1971 at 89 years of age.
How fascinating to think that the World’s Fair in Chicago attracted people from Nashua, New Hampshire, of all places, from all walks of life, from across the country and all over the world.