Being born and raised in New Hampshire, I can tell you in all honesty that very little happens here. Peace and quiet you shall find. Beautiful locations and scenery; four seasons and mountains, oceans, and cities all within a short drive are all here to be had, without a doubt. But when it comes to situations and events that grab the attention of the news…well, you probably took a wrong turn somewhere in Massachusetts.
That all being said, something very cool was discovered here a few years back, and it’s now making headlines.
While cleaning out an old barn in Nelson, New Hampshire that was being prepared for demolition, a man named Peter Massie discovered an old silent film projector and seven reels of nitrate films hidden in the shadows of a corner of the barn. Among these old reels was a 30-minute 1913 short film titled When Lincoln Paid.
Continue on over for more and to see two short video clips from this lost film courtesy of Keene State College.
The movie — directed by and starring Francis Ford — tells the story of a dead Union soldier’s mother who goes to Abraham Lincoln to ask that a Confederate soldier whom she had turned in be pardoned.
Ford was the older brother of legendary filmmaker John Ford, who won 4 Oscars and directed classics like The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, Stagecoach, and The Informer. The brothers were born in the state of Maine, not too far from where these reels were eventually discovered.
Younger brother John actually came to Hollywood following in the footsteps of Francis, who you seldom ever hear about. While John went on to become one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Francis had a remarkable career as well. The elder Ford had a gasp-worthy 480-film career, which spanned from the year 1909 to the year of his death, 1953.
This copy of When Lincoln Paid was actually discovered in 2006, but Massie was unsure what to do with it for a while before contacting Larry Benaquist, a film professor at Keene State College. It was discovered that the movie was not part of the film archive, and that it was one of eight different films where Ford played Lincoln — none of the others having any known existing copies.
This lead the college to pursue a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation so that they could restore it and save it from being lost forever. They received their grant, and after an entire year being worked on in a lab, the film has been restored and will be screened at the college next week.
A Summer camp for boys is said to have been located near the barn where the films were found, and it is thought that these movies were probably shown to the boys as a form of entertainment before they were stored in the barn and forgotten over time.