Monadnock Moments No. 70: Nelson Moving Bee
One hundred years ago and more, the moving of large buildings was a common practice. Our ancestors would put skids under a building and pull it along with oxen, not having to worry about telephone or electric lines. In those days, when they moved a building, they would often have a moving bee. The neighbors would come with their oxen to help with the project.
In 1860, George Tolman of Nelson decided to move a large ell of an old house down to his new house to use as a carriage shed. George prepared the building for moving and called the neighbors over to help with the job. All of the neighbors came because they knew the others would come to help them in a similar situation, and they also knew they would get a fine dinner when the job was done.
The wives began to prepare the dinner and the men took their oxen up to the old house. They finally got 12 or 15 pairs of oxen hitched up to the ell and began to pull. The building creaked and cracked, but did not move. Suddenly, the whole thing collapsed and fell flat on the ground. The men stopped, dumbfounded, and stared at the building lying there in front of them.
Just then George’s wife came into the clearing and said, “George.” “What yer want,” he replied. “Tell ‘um to come to dinner, dinner’s ready.” To which George replied, “What in thunder do you want to give ‘um dinner for, all they done was stove my house down?”