Marker #96 The Two Mile Streak

27 01 2010

#96 Two Mile Streak

Marker Text:

Granted in 1719 to encourage industrial development in the province and called New Portsmouth, this two-mile wide strip of land was set aside to provide homesites for imported workers at the Lamprey Ironworks. Wood from this strip was converted to charcoal for the Ironworks. Absorbed by the 1722 Barrington Grant, the area retains its identity as The Two-Mile Streak. Descendants of early settlers still live here.

This marker was erected in 1974.  It’s located on the east side of Rt. 125, about one and a half miles south of Rt. 9 in Barrington.

#96

Before getting to the Two Mile Streak it’s worth mentioning that the influx of settlers to New England really started to take off in the early 1700s.   Businessman had begun erecting mills on the rivers around Great Bay.  Townships and protective Garrisons were being established along the Merrimack river, and Portsmouth was the center of New Hampshire trade and government

As the population grew, so did the need for resources and trade goods.  Ship masts and lumber were in great demand, and most of the Great Bay area had been clear-cut by 1715 or so.  The trees were cut, masts and lumber made, then shipped off to England for the King.  The settlers needed homes and food, and the resources needed to keep flowing in and out of New Hampshire. Farms and markets were increasing in number and the colony was prospering quite well.  The population by 1720 was nearing approximately 10,000-15,000 people in the towns surrounding Great Bay, double what it had been only 10 years earlier. 

Abundant resources – and profits – attracted prominent and wealthy merchants to our shores.  Among them was a successful captain from Scotland, Archibald MacPheadris, who made his fortune as a sea captain and trader before coming to New Hampshire.  His first ventures here were in the fir trade and lumber exports.  He developed a  good relationship with the Indians and set up a network of outposts and employees to acquire firs.  Investing money in the building and running of lumber mills along the rivers feeding Great Bay produced valuable lumber.  Exporting his products back to London made him one of the richest and most important men in Portsmouth at the time.

Today you can still see his legacy at the home he built in Portsmouth, “The Warner House"

Warner House 1024 Warner House photo provided by and copyright of Philip Case Cohen.  Visit his blog, The Daily Portsmouth!  Check out his Virtual Gallery while you’re over there.

Construction began in 1716 or so (accounts vary) and was completed in 1718.  All of the original brick was imported from Holland, and the cost to build it was a then staggering  £6,000! It was completed in time to present as a gift to his new wife Sarah Wentworth.  She was one of the 16 children of Governor John Wentworth.  MacPheadris was well connected.  They had one child, Mary, who would later marry a gentleman named John Warner.  The home now bears his name.  To read a very interesting detailed history of the house, Volume 7 of the Granite Monthly of 1883 has quite the colorful story.

Now we can get to the Two Mile Streak!

One of  the ventures MacPheadris established in New Hampshire was the first Ironworks in the state, the “Lamprey Ironworks.”

Making Iron is no small thing.  First you have to find the ore, which was dug out of the bogs in the area.  Then you have to smelt it.  That means heat, and lots of it.  MacPheadris needed trees to burn into charcoal to keep his furnace hot, and people to dig up Bog Iron ore and man the Ironworks. It was backbreaking, dirty hot work.  MacPheadris brought employees over from England to man his project.

The Iron was turned into everything from home fixtures (nails, hinges, door handles, etc.) to household goods such as pots and plates. (Photo above is the Iron Furnace in Franconia, click it to visit the web site)

In 1719 the resources required to support the operation were awarded in the form of the Two Mile Streak.  Two miles wide, and six miles long it is today the eastern side of Barrington.  Homes were built for the families of the men that worked for the Ironworks, and the wood of the land kept the furnace going. The streak can be clearly seen in this portion of a 1784 map by Samuel Holland (click to enlarge).

two mile streak

In 1722 the Streak became part of the Barrington Grant that created that township (and included what is today Strafford). The same charter created the towns of Chester, Nottingham and Rochester.  Barrington would begin to be settled in earnest in the mid 1730s.

The Lamprey Ironworks operated until MacPheadris’ death in 1728.  He had been an entrepreneur, magistrate in Portsmouth, part of the Kings Council and pioneer in developing New Hampshire trade and early industry. The homesteads built for his workers and their families were the first in Barrington.

Today’s Rt. 125 enters Barrington from Lee in the Streak, and runs north through this land grant all the way to the Rochester border.  It’s not very impressive when you drive along, but it played an important part in our history, thanks to Captain Archibald MacPhaedris.

He was Capt. Archibald Macpheadris, a yellow-haired Scotchman, as crotchety as his late countryman, Carlyle, an indefatigable worker, a prosperous merchant and speculator, whose thrift brought him wealth.”

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One response

28 01 2010
Life Looms Large

Interesting info about Warner House and NH’s first ironworks. This post helps tie together a lot of random bits of history that have been kicking around in my brain.

Sue

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