HOMETOWN HEROES: Jessie Salisbury lives and writes Lyndeborough’s history

Jessie Salisbury with one of her novels, “The Elmwood Stories.”

Jessie Salisbury with one of her novels, “The Elmwood Stories.” PHOTO BY NADINE PREFTAKES

Jessie Salisbury of Lyndeborough.

Jessie Salisbury of Lyndeborough. PHOTO BY NADINE PREFTAKES

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 03-26-2024 8:35 AM

Modified: 03-28-2024 4:31 PM


Jessie Salisbury’s family was living in Alaska when her father had to retire for health reasons.

According to her, he always said he would someday move to Virginia, where he was stationed in World War I. Instead, the family, including 12-year-old Jessie, moved to Lyndeborough in 1947.

“They told him to go someplace warmer,” she said. “Why we ended up here, I don’t know.”

Salisbury, now 89, has been in town ever since, and is the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s Hometown Hero for March. She was nominated by Phil Brooks, who has known Salisbury for 45 to 50 years, including when he served as the Scoutmaster for her sons.

“She’s always been a big part of this community,” he said. “I don’t think there’s one committee she hasn’t been on at some point. If there’s any kind of event, she’s going to be there trying to help out.”

Brooks also noted Salisbury’s role in telling the town’s history, including as co-author of the book “A History of Lyndeborough, 1735-2022” with fellow Lyndeborough Historical Society members Stephanie Abbott Roper and Scott Roper.

“If anybody wants to know about history, they can come to Jessie to fill in the blanks as best as she can,” he said.

Salisbury said she finds local history interesting, and has been writing since she was a third-grader. She worked on the Lyndeborough history book for seven years, including three years reading every newspaper article and story she could find about the town, including from her 10 years writing for the Monadnock Ledger.

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“Taking notes on all of that stuff, I was here then. I remember all of that stuff. I just didn’t remember when,” she said. “The more we dug into it, the more we found we didn’t know.”

Salisbury’s writing has also included the Nashua Telegraph and the Milford Cabinet, along with co-authoring the “Images of America: New Hampshire” book about Wilton, Temple and Lyndeborough. She’s a member the Talespinners with Nikki Andrews, Linda Kepner and Stasia Millett.

“Other than that, I write romance novels, which is a lot more fun,” she said.

Salisbury has written more than 15 novels, although she said she is looking for a new publisher because her previous publisher has moved to strictly e-books.

Her town service began in the early 1970s, when she was named to Lyndeborough’s newly created Conservation Commission. She has also been a library trustee and School Board member, and since she was already a regular at the meetings, her reporting led to her eventually becoming clerk and then a member of both the planning and zoning boards.

After town government moved to Citizens’ Hall because the old Town Hall was in poor shape, Salisbury joined the Meetinghouse Committee, was is now the Heritage Commission.

“People realized it was a treasure being lost,” she said.

Salisbury still is on the Heritage Commission, and is secretary for both that board and the Historic District Commission. She’s also secretary of the Lyndeborough Historical Society.

“I am usually referred to as the town historian, but I’m not sure about that,” she said.

Although she said, “I have run out of contemporaries to ask” about things, and claims to have slowed down considerably, Salisbury has no plans to cease either writing or serving the town.

“Why stop?” she said.

Each month, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript will recognize one of our region’s many Hometown Heroes. Nominate a Hometown Hero at ledgertranscript.com/SpecialPages/Hometown-Heroes.