Monadnock Moments No. 13: A. C. Tuttle and the Keene Business DIrectory
The Keene Business Directory of 1871-72 is a small, well designed, hard cover volume approximately 80 pages in length. This was the second such directory prepared for Keene, appearing forty years after its predecessor, the directory of 1831.
This 1871 directory includes a listing of Keene residents, a street listing, a business directory, and many pages of advertisements. The book was the first in a series of regularly published city directories, which continues to the present day.
From the title page we learn that A. C. Tuttle compiled the directory. It is with Mr. Tuttle that the story of Keene’s first regular directory takes an interesting turn. An article in the “Nashua Telegraph” of that period indicates that Mr. Tuttle may not have been all that he appeared to be.
The article tells us that “one A. C. Tuttle, a man of about 30 years of age, of medium stature, dark complexion, full black whiskers and smooth address, has just put up one of the completest swindles ever known in this state.” It seems that Mr. Tuttle had acquired a free pass from the managers of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad to travel that road for six months and prepare directories for the towns along the line. At Plymouth, Meredith, and other New Hampshire towns he ran up large bills and when the time came for the delivery of the books he secured all the money he could from his advertisers and subscribers and then eloped, leaving behind hotel and painting bills of $600 to $800. The Nashua Telegraph concluded that few men could equal Tuttle’s wholesale sponging and lying. They cautioned the public, and especially the painting craft, to give him a wide berth.
It is unclear whether Keene residents of the early 1870’s were subjected to similar tactics. However, despite his crimes, this early Keene directory is an important historical document today and remains as a testimonial to the smooth swindler A. C. Tuttle.