One Thousand Horses



The Berlin & Coos County Historical Society invites you to its museum at the Moffett House to view one of our many interesting and most enigmatic exhibits.  Are you curious?  Of course, this is the hoof of one of the thousand brave draft horses who labored alongside the woodsmen of the Brown Company in getting timber to the river.  William R. Brown introduced the draft horse to the company in 1901, replacing mules. Brown valued these horses greatly, not just as assets on his balance sheet, but as wonderful and faithful “employees”.  It is well known that he acted swiftly against any reported mistreatment and abuse of the animals.  He also maintained a full time veterinary hospital on Main St. in Berlin known as the “hosspital”.  When it came to keeping track of the horses and assigning numbers to them, Brown didn’t use the brand on the horses’ hides, but instead humanely branded the front hoofs, the right one in the fall and the left in the spring.  Branding had to be done twice a year because the hooves grew down from the top just like our fingernails and the numbers eventually disappeared.  This method was painless for the horses, but often they had to have their heads covered so they couldn’t see what was happening and get “fractious”.  More information about this process may be found in the May 1930 edition of the Brown Bulletin which you may access for free at  The Brown Company published this bulletin from 1919 through 1931 and in the late 1940’s to the early 60’s.  All are available on line or better yet, come to the Moffett House and see the entire collection in their original printed form. If you want to look up a person or an event in the bulletin, a museum volunteer will help you to find what you need and then you can enjoy a leisurely read in our second floor reading room. To get back to our horses, you will also find many photographs of the horses at work and at their home, the original Thompson Farm on East Milan Road. In closing, we’d like to quote from the Brown Bulletin of February 1949 regarding the death of draft horse “Old Frank”. “ VETERAN HORSE OLD FRANK DIES.“ Old Frank, one of the best known horses in woods operations is dead.  He died suddenly while at work on the job at Wheeler Mountain camp at an age estimated to be between 18 and 20 years.  Old Frank put in many years of faithful service in the various Brown Co, woods operations.” Come in and visit us Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 noon to 4PM.  We are here to answer your questions and give you a personal or group tour.  For more information please call 603-752-4590 or 603-752-7337.


Read story of keeping tabs on 1000 horses .Brown Co Bulletins on our web pages archves  May 1930 page 3 & 4


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