Thanks for the tickets!

27 02 2010

Well timed twitter luck!   Thanks to the fine folks at for a free pair of tickets to see “The Chieftans” in Lowell in a few weeks. They were in the mailbox today.

The ChieftansIf you haven’t visited, head on over and see all they have to offer.  It’s a well put together web resource for NH residents or visitors.  News, events, recommendations for all kinds of activities, hotels, or restaurants.

The have a pretty good list of New Hampshire bloggers as well, broken down into categories.  Email them to get your blog added to the list.  If you use twitter, follow them.

(This post is a unabashed plug for the website, because they sent me free stuff.  And I like the web site. I hear disclaimers might be needed for this sort of thing.  So here it is.)

Marker #31 The Chocorua Legend

22 02 2010

#31 The Chocuroua Legend

Marker Text:

In several versions the legend’s sequence relates the mysterious death of Chocorua’s son while in the care of a settler named Campbell. Suspicious of the cause, the Pequawket chieftain took revenge on the settler’s family. Then, in retaliation, Campbell killed Chocorua on the peak of the mountain now bearing the Indian’s name.

This marker is located on Rt 16 in Tamworth, near the northern end of Lake Chocorua.  It was erected in 1965.


Town-Seal-RGB[1]Anyone who has driven up Rt 16 toward Conway from Ossipee has probably seen the  bare rocky crag that is the peak of Mount Chocorua (Cho-KOO-roo-wa). It’s a favorite climb for day hikers and offers terrific views from the exposed summit.  The Mountain, the Chief and the Legend all pre-date the founding of the town of Tamworth in 1766.

The conflict of the French and Indian war of the early 1700s faded by1720, but tension remained between the French and British colonists over the Acadia region.  Begining in 1721 Dummer’s War would involve the Ossipee and Tamworth area.  That topic is for an upcoming marker, but it’s important to try to get the timing right on The Chocorua Legend.

There are many tellings of this legend.  In some Chocorua is a loner, in others a survivor of Dummer’s war. Sometime’s he has a son, and sometime’s he doesn’t.  He is Hero, villain, or innocent bystander. But the ending is always the same.

#31 zpic7 Mount Chocorua, looking north across a frozen Lake Chocorua.  January 2010

For 40 years before the legend of Chocorua the French and English colonists fought over land in New England. It was in this new environment of settlers and war that he lived most of his life as the local tribes gave way to – and were used by – the newcomers.

Chocorua, however had always had friendly relations with the English.  Richard Andros, in his poem from Chocorua and other sketches (1838) describes a weary, beaten and sick man who has lost all family and tribe to the pestilence and war, before finding a sympathetic woman living alone in her cabin.  She nurses him to health and he pledges eternal friendship with the white man.

In the 1835 Lady’s Cabinet Album  (a reader to excite the ladies of the day)  Chocorua is a local icon well known around the small settlement near the mountain with a young son.  He befriends a family with children his own sons age, the Campbell’s, before tragedy strikes.  Cornelius Campbell and his wife Caroline had fled England after the return of Charles II.  Soon after arriving in Boston they tired of the crowds of the city and set out to find a place a place to settle into a more peaceful life.


Chocorua spent his entire life on and around “his” mountain.  It happened that one day he was called to a tribal meeting and left his son in the care of the Campbell’s.  Chocorua’s son and the Campbell children were  fast friends and often were found sampling the treats and foods that Caroline prepared. 

Wolves and foxes were a problem in the area often terrorizing the livestock of the Campbell’s.  Despite his best attempts with traps and rifle, Cornelius had little luck in stopping them.  Finally he prepared a poison that would end the problem once and for all.  But it seems he forgot to heed the advice “Keep out of reach of children.”  Chocorua’s son, mistaking the bottle for a liquid treat prepared by Caroline, sampled the poison.

51866W6EBYL._SL500_AA240_[1] It was a slow death. The Campbell’s fretted over the boy all that day and through the night trying in vain to help him.  By morning he had fallen into a deep sleep from which he would never wake.  They  buried him near a stone at the edge of the forest.

On his return Chocorua was devastated.  He retreated to his mountain feeling betrayed. The anger inside him would build even as he grieved for his son and revenge became his only thought.  He would stay in isolation until the time was right.

One bright morning Cornelius loaded his wagon with corn to take to the mill some 10 miles away.  While he was away Chocorua struck.  He butchered  Caroline and the children in the cabin then retreated once more to his mountain.

Cornelius would return home to a forever changed life.

In such a mind, grief, like all other emotions, was tempestuous. … the remembrance of their love clung to him like the death grapple of a drowning man, sinking him down, down, into darkness and death. This was followed by a calm a thousand times more terrible—the creeping agony of despair, that brings with it no power of resistance.

These who knew and reverenced him, feared that the spark of reason was for ever extinguished. But it rekindled again; and with it came a wild, demoniac spirit of revenge. The death-groan of Chocorua would make him smile in his dreams …

There was no need to guess where Chocorua may have gone.  There was only one place he would go – his mountain. Campbell assembled a party of men to go after him and headed for the mountain. They pursued Chocura and drove him to the top of the mountain, finally cornering him at the edge of a cliff.  Campbell leveled his rifle and ordered Chocorua to jump.

choc1 Chocorua refused saying “The Great Spirit gave life to Chocorua; and Chocorua will not throw it away at the command of a white man!”  Campbell fired, wounding Chocorua in the neck. 

Chocorua reeled from the shot, teetering on the edge of the precipice, but he recovered enough to raise both hands bravely and in a defiant voice said, “A curse upon ye, white men!  May the Great Spirit curse ye when he speaks in the clouds, and his words are fire!  Chocorua had a son—and ye killed him while the sky looked bright!  Lightning blast your crops!  Wind and fire destroy your dwellings!  The Evil Spirit breathe death upon your cattle!  Your graves lie in the war-path of the Indian! Panthers howl, and wolves fatten over your bones!  Chocorua goes to the Great Spirit—his curse stays with the white men!”

His curse completed Chocura threw himself over the cliff and fell to his death.


The curse above is from the Lady’s Cabinet Album, and is repeated in a current book “Cursed in New England”.  There is another version in Andros’ poem that reads;

Great spirit, hear!
If innocence can aught avail with thee,
Let not my blood go down, without revenge,
To earth! but may my curse rest on this spot
Forever! and each thing—each living thing,
Perish upon these hills! and blight, and death,
And desolation wrap the scene!

The Lady’s album (The story by Lydia Maria Childs) speaks of Chocorua falling down dead and  Andros has him jumping. So it is with legends.  No doubt there was a Chocorua at the time, and the Campbell’s were certainly real enough.  Trying to track down the details is like playing “Telephone” across centuries.

Back at it.

16 02 2010

It’s been nearly a week since my computer decided to jump off the Hudson bridge into the Merrimack.  The good news as I mentioned in my last post was that I was able to save the data.  The even better news is a spiffy new laptop!

So I’ll be back at the New Hampshire markers again with a vengeance.  I lost some research time, but the next marker will be “The Chocourua Legend.”  It will be up this week.

Thanks to all for your patience


Oof… Laptop goes boom?

11 02 2010

A whole host of demons settled into my computer today. They seem to have an in for the graphics chip and driver (it’s a laptop).

I managed to get all my data off, which is good. I’ll spare the details for now.

I’m posting this via the free WordPress app on my Droid. I will say that WordPress probably has the best mobile device support of any free blog platform.

Anyway, it may be a bit before I can get things back to normal, but I can keep up with comments and such  and keep up with all my NH blog friends as well.

Be well, and wish me Luck!

Marker #161 Ladd-Gilman House

8 02 2010

#161 Ladd-Gilman

Marker Text:

Built about 1721 as one of New Hampshire’s earliest brick houses, and enlarged and clapboarded in the 1750s, this dwelling served as the state treasury during the Revolution. Here were born John Taylor Gilman (1753-1828), who was elected governor for an unequalled total of fourteen years, and his brother Nicholas Gilman, Jr. (1755-1814), a signer of the U.S. Constitution. The house has been maintained since 1902 by the Society of the Cincinnati.

Located at the Ladd-Gilman house on Water St. in downtown Exeter, the Marker was erected in 1991. (Leftmost Placemark below)


The Ladd-Gilman House gives us a chance to return to Exeter one more time before the Revolutionary War. This is a chance to catch up with Exeter’s history since the last marker from more than 80 years ago.  After Rev. Wheelwright was booted out of town in 1642 and Exeter came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, the town began to be settled in earnest. 

Exeter was a desirable place to settle for many reasons. As the Exeter river goes over the falls it becomes the Swampscott river and is part of Great Bay.  Back then, before the construction of dams, salmon were plentiful as they headed from the ocean up the Exeter river to spawn.   The Swampscott river, being a tidal river, provided access to Dover, Strawberry Banke and the ocean.  Alewives were plentiful above the falls providing an opportunity to build fisheries and use the harvested fish to fertilize the soil as land was cleared  and farms built.  The first mill was erected on the east side of the river on the Exeter river falls (map above, center right).  The homes of the settlers were generally on the west side of the river.

As with any new town representatives were selected, taxes set out for the common cause, plots of land claimed and bickered about, grumbles about Massachusetts Government and people generally being people.  Into this new town being structured came a wealthy man named Edward Gilman:

the settlement in Exeter of Edward Gilman in 1647, and his relatives shortly afterwards, men of property and energy, who set up saw-mills and gave an impulse to the business of the place. Bell, History of Exeter

The Gilman family prospered in Exeter as more of the family moved into the town.  Over the next 50 years Exeter would grow steadily,  the primary exports being ship masts, barrel staves and other products produced at the mills.  The first garrison house would be built by a Gilman and still stands today at 12 Water Street (map above, lower right).

Nathaniel Ladd was born in Haverhill MA in the 1650s, married Elizabeth Gilman and eventually settled in Exeter.  He managed to get into a bit of trouble in 1683 when he took part in Gove’s rebellion. Many were angry at provincial Governor who had dissolved the assemblies elected by the people to appoint his own guys. Ladd and 11 others (probably fortified with spirits) rode from Exeter to Hampton with guns and sword at the ready.  They were all arrested except Ladd who managed to escape and went into hiding for a while. Nathaniel Ladd would meet an early death participating in a raid on the Indian settlement at Casco Bay in 1691.  His eldest son, Nathaniel II would build what is today the Ladd-Gilman House.

ladd-gilman HDR Ladd-Gilman House, 11/09

IMG_0226 The original house is all brick, but was clapboarded over later when additions were added in the 1750s.  Through marriage between the Ladd and Gilman families in the 1700s the house was eventually owned by the Gilmans.  Today the house is part of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, and displays historic documents including original drafts of the Declaration of Independence.  Also on the museum property is the Folsom Tavern (pictured above), built in 1775 on the corner of today’s Front and Water streets.  It was moved to this location in 2004. And before you ask, yes, George Washington visited here in 1783.

There will be a little more on this important building in posts about the revolution.

Marker Road Trip

6 02 2010

Yesterday the lovely Carol and I jumped into the car to hunt for Historic markers.  It’s always a fun day exploring the back roads and tiny villages of the less visited parts of our state and this trip was no exception.  And we struck it rich.

collage Marker gold. 14 more crossed off the list.

Beyond the markers, the communities themselves are almost always a surprise.  Here’s a few highlights from yesterday’s trip.  All population numbers are from the state’s 2008 estimate.  Click for bigger pics.

SuttonSutton. Population 2,910

After Rt 114 South passes under I89 (no exit on 89) it’s a bumpy frost heavy ride into Sutton.  The town itself is divided into Sutton and South Sutton.

This is the “First Freemen” Baptist church near the entrance to Wadleigh State Park in Sutton.  The cemetery is behind the church.

Rt. 114 bends sharply left, passing a small general store on its way to South Sutton.

Bradford Bradford. Population 1,586

In Bradford is the junction of Rt 114 and 103. A right turn heads to Lake Sunapee.  Just after the turn is Center street on the left and a covered bridge. At the end of Center street is what was the original center of Bradford.

Rock walls are everywhere you go.  This wall is made of some pretty large boulders, and as you can see from the lichen they were placed a long time ago. This wall surrounds lines the original cemetery in old Bradford Center from the 1790s.

This road is a dead end, but there is a marker here seemingly in the middle of nowhere.


Goshen. Population 818

South of Newport, NH on Rt. 10 is Goshen. The small dam above was probably built long ago to power an old mill.  The lower pond is beginning to freeze over again as the mildly turbulent water creates ice Frisbees.

Lempster. Population 1,111

Did you know there was a wind farm in Lempster? I didn’t until yesterday.


Amazing things.  It’s hard to get a feel for the real size of it.  Each of those blades is 170 feet long.  From one blade tip to another is about 300 feet – the length of a football field.  As soon as I stepped out of the car, I could hear it.  A deep woosh-ish sound as the blades spun.

There are 12 of these things running along the ridges of Lempster, producing enough power for about 10,000 homes (1/40th the output of Seabrook).  At a cost of $48 million it provided a lot of “green jobs” during construction.  Now that it’s operational, not so many.  Only 3.  The company that built and runs it, Iberdrola Renewables, brought in the wind turbines from Spain. (Source)

IMG_0687 Washington. Population 995

From Lempster there is back road imaginatively named Mountain Road. It climbs over the ridge the wind turbines are on to the little town of Washington.

The town straddles Rt 31 about halfway between Goshen and Hillsborough.  The center of town has a Gazebo (you can see it left) and some well maintained classic New Hampshire buildings.


A shot from the Gazebo.  Church, 1800s era school house, and the Washington Town Hall.

If you ever get down this way stop at the general store in town.  Along with the usual snacks, drinks and suds, they have a Pizza oven and are open serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And they have a gas pump (just one, no brand).  I hear they get a lot of snowmobile business.

Hillsb1 Hillsborough 5,857

Maps are a funny thing.  Sometimes a road becomes a dirt road.  So there you are driving along a well plowed dirt road and bam!  You see something like the bridge at left.

Further along this dirt road are some insanely beautiful original brick farm houses from the 1700s and many of the farms are still operational. There’s money in there.

Antrim. Population 2,630Antrim

With the sun getting low it’s time to find a way home.  31 South runs through Antrim.  Here’s the chariot in front Antrim Town Hall (1894).

There’s a marker across the street but I’m thinking I need to go back as the fading light didn’t make for any really nice shots.

I’m keeping a list of places that we would like to revisit in the spring, summer or fall.  Antrim gets added.

Benning2Bennington. Population 4,904

Bennington has been a mill town forever.  And in fact the marker here talks about just that, so I’ll save a lot of the shots from there for the appropriate history post.

Mills mean dams and dams mean ponds and ponds mean ice this time of year.

Ice piling up against the dam in a refreezing pond.

I realize it’s been a bit since the last history post, but the next one is just about ready to publish – back to Exeter one last time before the revolution.

Air Force One Buzzes Mike in New Hampshire?

2 02 2010

Here in Hudson we’re used to Manchester air traffic on approach, and sometimes they come right over the house.  Not over the house today, but close enough!

af1-1a Air Force One Heading Into Manchester

af1-2a Please place your seatbacks and tray tables in the upright and locked position.

That is one big plane.  I was looking for any signs of fighter escorts zipping around but there were none to be found.  The President is in Nashua today at 2:00pm at Nashua North High School.