This postcard found on eBay prompted my story….
Crystal Lake, AKA “Skenker’s Pond” or “Mosquito Pond”, is located in Manchester’s south end off Bodwell Road. The City of Manchester runs a municipal park there with swimming. There is still a fieldstone bathhouse located at Crystal Lake Beach, built in 1942 by the Works Progress Administration, which was renovated in 1987.
Charles Alan Lambert arrived in Manchester in the 1840s from Lincolnshire, England to live the life of a hermit. He bought 40 acres on Mosquito Pond, as it was known then, and built a hut. It appears that Lambert had failed in his law studies, and at love, and decided to take to the woods as a hermit. He lived a vegetarian lifestyle, wrote poetry and tended sheep. He was a local celebrity, and was sought out by tourists for his home grown herbs. During his life he amassed a large collection of Indian artifacts, which he showed to visitors. He did not allow himself to drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. (Sampson, 2000)
Lambert lived in his hut for 60 years, and died at the Sisters of Mercy House of St. John for Aged Men in 1914. He was buried at St. Joseph’s Cemetery with a gravestone marked “The Hermit” (Perreault, 1984) His will stipulated that all his property was to benefit St. Patrick’s Orphanage in Manchester.
The famous Manchester photographer Ulric Bourgeois (1874 – 1963) was known for his photographs of the mill workers and French Canadian immigrants. He also had a series of photographs of the hermit Charles Lambert. Bourgeois read about Lambert in the local papers, and bicycled over to Mosquito Pond with fourteen glass plates to make 28 exposures of the hermit over the years. Lambert was almost eighty years old at the time they met, but over a dozen years he struck up a friendship with Bourgeois and allowed him to photograph his lifestyle. This postcard is one of Bourgeois's photos.
For more information on Charles Alan Lambert:
“Mosquito Pond, or Life in the Woods”, by R. B. Perreault, in the The Manchester Journal, July 4, 1984.
Manchester: the Mills and the Immigrant Experience, by Gary Sampson, Acadia Publishing, 2000, pages 103 – 107.
New Hampshire Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff , by Eric Jones, Morris Book Publishing, 2006, pages 72-74.
Encyclopedia of New England, "Hermits", by Burt Feintuch and David H. Watters, Yale University Press, 2005, pages 759 - 760.
Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo