The Keene Business Directory of 1871-72 is a small, well-designed, hardcover volume, approximately 80 pages in length. This was the second such directory prepared for Keene, appearing 40 years after its predecessor, the directory of 1831.
This 1871 directory included a listing of Keene residents, a street listing, a business directory and many pages of advertisements. The book was the first in a series of regularly published city directories, which continued into the 1990s.
From the title page, we learn that A. C. Tuttle compiled the directory. It is with Mr. Tuttle that the story of Keene’s first regular directory takes an interesting turn. An article in The Telegraph of Nashua of that period indicates Mr. Tuttle may not have been all he appeared to be.
The article tells us “one A. C. Tuttle, a man of about 30 years of age, of medium stature, dark complexion, full black whiskers and smooth address, has just put up one of the completest swindles ever known in this state.” It seems that Mr. Tuttle had acquired a free pass from the managers of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad to travel that road for six months and prepare directories for the towns along the line. In Plymouth, Meredith and other New Hampshire towns, he ran up large bills, and when the time came for the delivery of the books, he secured all the money he could from his advertisers and subscribers and then absconded, leaving behind hotel and painting bills of $600 to $800. The Telegraph concluded few men could equal Tuttle’s wholesale sponging and lying. The publication cautioned the public, and especially the printing craft, to give him a wide berth.
It is unclear whether Keene residents of the early 1870s were subjected to similar tactics. However, despite his crimes, this early Keene directory is an important historical document today and remains as a testimonial to the smooth swindler A. C. Tuttle.