Last week, a woman left a comment that her grandfather worked at the M.C.A. cigar factory in 1914. I was pretty excited because if the year was accurate, his employment would have overlapped with Lizzie’s. I followed-up with an email to see if she had any other information. Unfortunately, she didn’t, however, since she was researching M.C.A, I sent her a digital copy of the June 3, 1894 invoice for 100 M.C.A. cigars.
I hadn’t looked at the invoice in months, and as I usually do, began to wonder if it contained a story of its own. It did, and surprisingly, I found that I have a connection with it.
On June 3, 1894, a G. W. Tarlson purchased 100 cigars from the M.C.A. Cigar Company. I wondered: Who was he? What was his story? I typed “G.W. Tarlson” into a Google search and some interesting things came up. According to a 1901 Business Directory, a merchant by the name of G.W. Tarlson lived in The Weirs, a small beach community located on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, in Laconia, New Hampshire. George W. Tarlson was also listed as the town’s Postmaster. According to the book, The Weirs, by Warren D. Huse, not only did G.W. Tarlson own a general store at The Weirs, but that the store also housed the town’s post office.
Although I can’t prove that the G. W. Tarlson on the invoice is the same as the G.W. Tarlson that owned a store in Laconia, the evidence is pretty strong. For example, how many non-merchant G.W. Tarlsons would be buying cigars in lots of one hundred? And add the fact that The Weirs is only 110 miles North of Boston, and the theory is plausible. So, going with the theory that the Laconia-based merchant is the same as the one on the invoice, let’s dive into some research.
George Welsley Tarlson was born on Christmas Day in 1870, in Campton, New Hampshire. At the age of twenty, he went to work for George W. Weeks’s general store, located on Lakeside Drive at The Weirs. Five years later, Tarlson purchased the store, and G.W. Tarlson’s became a fixture in the little beach community.
On April 22, 1896, he appears to have mixed love and business by marrying bookkeeper Mary Helen Avery. The couple always lived close to the store, renting an apartment at 685 Lakeside Ave in 1900, and buying 88 Lakeside Ave a few years later. The couple had five children: Hazel, Clifton, George W. (Jr), Beatrice, and Henrietta. By the 1930 United States Federal Census, G.W. is listed as a 60-year-old retail merchant at a grocery store, still living at 88 Lakeside Avenue. He died on March 27, 1937 at the age of 66.
Evidently, G.W. Tarlsen Jr., followed his dad’s footsteps by also becoming a Laconia, N.H. businessman. According to local history, Tarleson’s Arcade “…was built between 1951-1952, replacing ‘Walkden’s Souvenirs’ and ‘Jeff’s Snack Bar.'”
And here’s where the story gets very interesting.
I spent many a summer day at The Weirs. Not only did close family friends own a cottage right down the street, but my Aunt Ann (Uncle Fred’s sister) vacationed there with her family. Whenever I was in town, I’d never miss an opportunity visit a Lakeside Ave tourist trap called the Thunderbird Trading Post, where I’d spend hours listening to the amazing stories of the store’s 90-year-old proprietor. The most memorable of his stories? He claimed that as a young concert violinist, he played under Tchaikovsky…yes…the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky!
So, you can imagine my delight when I read that that one of the businesses that G.W. Tarlson Junior’s arcade displaced–Walkden’s Souvenirs– shared the same name with the man who I respectfully called “Mr. Walkden.”
A quick check of the Corporation Filings in New Hampshire shows that The Thunderbird Trading Post was registered on August 11, 1952, and was held until being dissolved in 1985. And if you take a close look at the picture below, Mr. Walkden didn’t move his new business too far. In 1955, the Thunderbird Trading Post was located in the Tarlson’s Arcade Building (Labelled “A”). And when I visited him in the late seventies and early eighties, The Thunderbird Trading Post was located in the building next door (Labelled “B”).
Sources used in this post:
- 1900 US Federal Census
- 1920 US Federal Census
- 1930 US Federal Census
- Marriage Records
- Death Certificate