#85 Nottingham Chartered 1722

9 03 2010

#85 Nottingham

Marker Text:

Two miles north on Route 156 (one mile ahead) is Nottingham, home of Revolutionary War Patriots, Generals Thomas Bartlett, Henry Butler, Joseph Cilley, and Henry Dearborn who was later a Congressman, Secretary of War, and Minister to Portugal. Monuments in Nottingham Square, five miles north, commemorate these men and the 1747 massacre of Elizabeth Simpson, Robert Beard and Nathaniel Folson by Indians of the Winnipesaukee Tribe.

This marker is located on Rt 27/107 in Raymond, about 3/4mi west of the junction of Rt 156.  Nottingham Square is 5 miles north on Rt 156.


Land grants were coming fast and furious in the 1700s.  Massachusetts had pretty standard language for all of them, and reading this stuff can put you to sleep quick.  I hope that’s not the case here as we see how a town on the edge of the frontier came to be.

The Nottingham land grant is the next in the expansion of New Hampshire, extending a protective ring westward from the coast. Old Dunstable-1673, the Scotch-Irish settlement (Londonderry)-1719, and The Two Mile Streak-1719 in Barrington were all being populated around this time.  When Nottingham is added (containing today’s towns of Nottingham, Deerfield and Northwood) there is an effective wall set up to help guard against Indian attacks and expand the wealth of New Hampshire.  A map might help here.

notmap2 The grants of the early 1720s.

The request for a land charter was submitted without a suggested name to Boston on April 19, 1721 and signed by 101 men. Boston responded on April 28th:

We, the dwellers at Boston, being in number a considerable part of the persons entered in a petition late granted by the authority of New Hampshire, April 21,1721, for settling a town norwestward of Exeter, etc., at a meeting among ourselves duly warned,

It is voted, That the tract of land contained and set forth in the said petition shall be called New Boston, if our brethren at Newbury and elsewhere are of the same mind, and the gentlemen of the province of New Hampshire approve of ye same to whom we submit the matter.

The people named in the charter were of many different backgrounds and motives.  Most of them came from coastal areas from Portsmouth to Boston. Land speculators were involved, as were entrepreneurs trying to expand their wealth.  Many were veterans of various Indian wars – or their heirs -  granted land as payment for service to the colonies.  20 New Hampshire men were added to the charter in December 1721 by the folks in Exeter who were responsible for it’s execution.

Town of Nottingham SealBut all of them – regardless of station or wealth – were required meet the terms of the grant.  The Royal Charter from George I, dated May 10, 1722 lays out all the details of elections and such.  Each “Proprietor” was required to build a house and plow up and fence in at least 3 acres of land within 3 years, and plant the fields in the 4th year.  Oh, and the charter changed the name to Nottingham.

Land was set aside for the Proprietors to build a town Meeting House, school and parsonage within 4 years.  They were also required to pay for any protection that may be needed and a town minister.

Charter in hand, the Proprietors went about the business of building a town.  Planning meetings were held in Portsmouth or Exeter.  At the first meeting in Exeter in June it was decided that “Major John Gilman, Capt. John Gilman and Capt. John Wadleigh be a committee to agree with men to build a bridge and make good ways to Nottingham.” As noted in a previous post, the Gilman family were quite influential in early Exeter.

There were no roads.  The bridge in question was over the Lamprey River to facilitate connecting the town to Exeter.  It took 2 years to build a way in, survey the land and finally get to the point where they could parcel out land.

The description of the chosen town center from 1724 is told to us thusly:

notmap3 “But the position chosen for the compact part of the town was "beautiful for situation." It was upon the height of a large swell of land, gently sloping in every direction. It was twenty-five miles south-east from what is now the state capital, fourteen miles north-west from Exeter, and twenty west from Portsmouth. The blue waters of the Atlantic, and the white canvas of vessels entering the harbor at Portsmouth, could be distinctly seen; while little lakes sparkled like gems in the wilderness, and Pawtuckaway Mountain gracefully rose in the west, and Saddleback in a more northerly direction, and babbling streams, affording ample water-power, found their way along the valleys. Here, at an elevation of about four hundred and fifty feet above the sea level, they laid out a compact village with great exactness in the form of a cross.“

The small map above (click for big) shows Nottingham Square today, with the originally laid out roads in the form of a cross. The four streets were originally named King St (Southeast to Exeter and the Lamprey bridge), Fish St. (Southwest to “Tuckaway” pond), Bow St (Northwest to Bow pond), and North St. (Northeast toward North River). Roads are said to have been built “Four Rods wide” – about 64 feet!

Parcels of land at the center were assigned to the meeting house, schools, and of course, special plots for the Governor and Lt. Governor.  A total of 134 plots were parceled and lots drawn for ownership.  Generally, the further from town, the more acreage.

The first meeting held in Nottingham itself occurred in 1727 in the town “Block House” – or meeting house.  By then the roads had been laid, town center built and folks were beginning to work the land.  The first order of business was to raise funds to build a mill on the “Tuckaway” river to process lumber.

Like many of the settlements around this time lumber, charcoal and Ships Masts (required by law to be sent to England for the Navy) were the main sources of income.  Farming was of less value because of our rocky soil, but it was good land for raising livestock and planting crops for a family’s use.

Over the next 60 years as Nottingham grew, people in the farther reaches of the town were complaining that it was to far to the town center.  The original planners misjudged the actual size of the grant and positioned the town center in the southeast corner of the grant.  Deerfield would later be set off as it’s own town in 1766, and the folks who lived in what they then called the “North Woods” would split again in 1773 to become Northwood.

It’s hard to imagine the New Hampshire of the 1720s-1730s. Mr. Elliott Colby Cogswell History of Nottingham, Deerfield, and Northwood 1878  gives a glimpse into the early pioneer spirit.

notpic "VARIOUS motives prompted men to engage in the settlement of some of our towns. Some were actuated by a spirit of enterprise. They delighted in seeing highways cut through the wilderness, smoke ascending from many a hill-top, — sign that the woodman’s ax was effecting clearings and rude dwellings were being constructed for those who were willing to dare and endure. It was for the greater safety of the lower towns to have the frontiers extended further from the coast-line, and the towns that were the centers of trade and influence encouraged every attempt to effect a new settlement.”


Mr. Cogswell’s book, celebrating the Northwood centennial was the only source used for this post.  The proceedings of the event are covered, including poetry, song, speeches, etc.  I didn’t read all the speeches (they sure could speechify back then) but enjoyed “The Old Elm Tree” by S. Clarke Buzell was my favorite of those I did.  Check it out if you have a moment extra.


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.

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 #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.


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.”

Marker #58 Scotch-Irish Settlement – and Tartan!

19 01 2010

#58 Scotch-Irish Settlement

Marker Text:

In April 1719, sixteen Presbyterian Scotch-Irish families settled here in two rows of cabins along West Running Brook easterly of Beaver Brook. Initially known as Nutfield, the settlement became Londonderry in 1723. The first year, a field was planted, known as the Common Field, where the potato was first grown in North America.

Located about a mile east of the Derry rotary on East Derry Rd in front of the East Derry Church and site of the first meetinghouse. Marker erected in 1969.



The Scotch-Irish – also known as the Ulster-Scots – have  a pretty interesting history.  Back in the days of King James I and through the 1600s, there were settlers sent from Scotland to Catholic Ireland.  One of the first was in what came to be known as Ulster County.  The major town was … Londonderry!

Of course the native Catholics weren’t to happy about having land given to these immigrating Presbyterian Scotsmen. It didn’t take long before hostilities broke out. 

By 1641 The Irish Rebellion was in full swing.  This was pretty much the start of the centuries long strife between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.  We don’t need to go through it all here.  Lets just follow the Scotch-Irish that came to New Hampshire.

As previously noted, the Scotch-Irish were Presbyterians.  They had splintered away from the official English church.  In 1688 the ascension of William to the English throne brought relative peace to Ireland.  The Scotch-Irish were allowed to practice their religion, but were required to pay the church of England 10% of everything they produced.  They land they lived on and worked was only leased to them by the crown – they could be evicted at any time.

Edward Parker, in his 1851 “History of Londonderry” quotes an earlier historian commenting on the feelings in Northern Ireland at the time between the Protestants and the Catholics:

"On the same soil dwelt two populations, locally intermixed, morally and politically sundered. The difference of religion was by no means the only difference, and was perhaps not even the chief difference, which existed between them. They sprang from different stocks. They spoke different languages. They had different national characters, as strongly opposed as any two national characters in Europe. They were in widely different stages of civilization. There could, therefore, be little sympathy between them ; and centuries of calamities and wrongs had generated a strong antipathy. The relation in which the minority stood to the majority, resembled the relation in which the followers of William the Conqueror stood to the Saxon churls, or the relation in which the followers of Cortez stood to the Indians of Mexico."

So there they were.  No real land ownership, taxed to support a church they didn’t believe in and surrounded by animosity from both the Irish Catholics and church of England.  And they had heard things.  Good things about new freedoms across the Atlantic.  It didn’t take long for them to realize leaving for the new world might not be such a bad idea.

Four Presbyterian clergymen gathered all the interested families from their churches. 217 signed the request that was sent to Boston in the hands of Reverend Boyd.  The colony said “sure, come on over!” and they did.  They arrived in Boston in August of 1718.

In the fall of that year a gentleman named MacGregor took 16 of these families to Casco Bay to find a place to settle, but arrived late in the fall.  They spent a miserable winter aboard ship, sick and hungry, iced into the bay.  Boston sent enough food to see them to the spring.

In the spring they explored the lands around Casco Bay but couldn’t find anything to their liking.  So they struck west into the Merrimack valley, arriving at the settlement in Haverhill, MA.  Once there they began asking about land that could be settled and were told of an area called Nutfield, about 15 miles northwest.  The men went to explore the new area and fell in love. 

#58 mid_plus_dark_tonemapped November 2009

They communicated the selection of the land to Boston – making their claim – and proceeded to build some crude huts before returning to gather up their families and few possessions for the trip to their new home.   As the marker notes, 5 years later they renamed the town after their old home in Ireland, Londonderry.

Now to important stuff.  Potatoes!  That’s quite a claim on the marker: “The first year, a field was planted, known as the Common Field, where the potato was first grown in North America.”  Could it be true?  This calls for some intense googling.

It seems that a few people brought some potatoes in the 1600s, but no one really established a potato plantation.  All of the most reliable Potato Historians do indeed place the first legitimate Potato farms in Londonderry, 1719.  Take that Maine!

Special bonus for all my Crafty readers, the Official State of New Hampshire Tartan!

Yes we do have one, approved by the state legislature in 1995 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the New Hampshire Highland Games.


Here is the Sett for the Tartan:

green 56, black 2, green 2, black 12, white 2, black 12, purple 2, black 2, purple 8, red 6, purple 28

tartan2The colors represent:

Green represents our forests, Black the granite of our mountains, White is the snow, Purple our state flower the Lilac and bird the purple finch.  Red represents all our state Heroes.

I’ll let some of our weavers explain how a list of colored string gets turned into tartan.  Looms scare me.

Marker #55 Baker River

12 01 2010

#55 Baker River

Marker Text:

Known to Indians as Asquamchumauke, the nearby river was renamed for Lt. Thomas Baker (1682-1753) whose company of 34 scouts from Northhampton, Mass. passed down this valley in 1712. A few miles south his men destroyed a Pemigewasset Indian village. Massachusetts rewarded the expedition with a scalp bounty of £40 and made Baker a captain.

Erected in 1968, this marker is located on Rt 25 in Rumney, about 8 miles west of I93 off exit 26, in a rest area and information station.  You’ll pass the world famous Polar Caves on the way there.


The Baker River is a quiet waterway about 36 miles long with its headwaters originating on the south side of Mount Moosilauke (4800 feet).  It parallels  Rt25 in Rumney before entering Plymouth and emptying into the Pemigewasset River.

To learn the full story of Thomas Baker we’ll need to go back 8 years before the event on the marker to 1704 and the town of Deerfield Massachusetts.  It was there that a key event in Queen Anne’s War would occur and chart Baker’s course in life.  The Deerfield Massacre.

At dawn on leap day, February 29th 1704, the settlement at Deerfield came under attack from a force of 300-400 Indians and their French commanders.  Two Garrisons protected the town, one surrounded by a high palisade.  Fearing attacks, many residents spent their nights within the garrison walls.  The attack force stealthily approached the town and climbed snow drifts to get inside the palisade and open the gates.  The massacre was on.  As dawn broke hatchets fell and guns fired.  The Indians ransacked and burned homes lighting up the skies and alerting settlements to the south.

The pattern would be the same as befell Hanah Dustin from Haverhill 7 years earlier:  Strike at dawn, pillage, burn the town, take captives and escape north.  The town garrisons and militia put up a valiant fight eventually driving off the attack. 48 were killed, 140 “alive at home” (wounded) and 112 people were taken captive.

Among the captives was the town minister John Williams, who would later write a book about the event The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion  and 22 year old Thomas Baker.  I’ll bet you thought I forgot about him by now!

To make a long story a bit shorter, Baker was taken to Montreal.  He would spend 15 months there before escaping.  In May of 1705, he and 3 others managed to get clear of Montreal making their way back to Deerfield where they arrived weak and hungry on June 8th.

The Deerfield Massacre, his capture and escape would define Bakers life.  Described as “somewhat rough in manner” he joined the King’s army and became a proficient scout.  Commanding soldiers scouting north for Indian raiding parties would be his day to day life, and he eventually earned a commission to Lieutenant.

#55-3 Now we can get to the event that earned Thomas Baker his promotion to Captain, and the naming of a river after him.  It’s not as exciting as the Deerfield massacre.

The Indians that raided Massachusetts and New Hampshire were using the Pemigewasset more often to make their escape.  Baker was assigned 30-35 men (accounts vary) for an exploratory mission up the Connecticut River Valley and then southeast to what is currently Plymouth NH.  Travelling north they went as far as what is currently Haverhill NH. On their arrival no Indians were to be seen.  Striking Inland and following the terrain the party would eventually arrive in what is today Warren, NH and the Baker River.

Baker River HDR

Baker River, at the marker with Rattlesnake Mt. in the distance, 12/09

The trip down the river was uneventful until the party arrived at the confluence of the Baker River and the Pemigewasset at today’s Plymouth.  There they encountered a small band of Indians who had made their home there.  Baker attacked, killing many including their chief, and scattering the rest.  After inspecting the village they took as many furs and supplies as they could carry, and burned the rest to the ground.  They finished their journey heading south to the Merrimack, and then to Boston to report.

The marker story ends here, but Captain Baker doesn’t.  In 1714, guiding negotiators to Montreal to gain the release of British Captives, Baker would meet his wife Margaret.  As a baby she had been taken from Dover, NH in an Indian raid in 1689.  She was given to the Catholic priests for upbringing.  She married a Frenchman named LeBeau and had three children before M. LeBeau died.

She returned to Massachusetts with Baker and they were wed in 1715.  He continued his scouting missions, became a local politician, and by 1735 had resettled in Margaret’s home town of Dover, NH.  Captain Baker died in 1735.  Mrs. Baker ran a tavern in Dover as a widow until her death in 1773.

Meanwhile, back in Europe 1700-1763

6 01 2010

At the beginning of the 18th Century Europe was relatively quiet (for them).  The end of King William’s War in 1697 held but would soon be shattered by more disputes of lines of succession.  This time it was in Spain.

King William would die in 1702, and Queen Anne would rise to the throne.  As with all changes in the monarch there were those for and against.  Scotland grumbled and passed resolutions.  England whined and passed counter resolutions.  In the end Queen Anne was seated.

The big problem was a successor after Anne.  By 1700 she had been pregnant 18 times.  Sadly, she miscarried or delivered still born children 13 times and of the live births, only one survived past 2 years of age.  His name was William and died in 1700 at age 11.

Almost immediately, Great Britain became involved in the War of Spanish Succession.  The King of Spain had died and left the Kingdom to Philip V who just happened to be the grandson of King Louis the XIV of France.  This unfortunate event threatened to unite the thrones of Spain and France because Philip was also in line to the French throne.  What a mess!  Never missing the opportunity for a good war the British, Dutch, Portuguese and the Holy Roman Empire quickly joined forces to once more beat up the French and Spanish.

And just like the previous war spilled over to the new world this one would as well.  We know it as Queen Anne’s War, or the 2nd French and Indian War.  The war in the new world stretched from South America to Canada.  Much of the fighting was by privateers in the Caribbean and along the coasts of South America, the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.  New England would play her part in the north.

The French occupied what was then known as Acadia that includes what is now large parts of Canada  including Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  They also controlled a large hunk of Eastern Maine.  As in the previous war the French used the Indians in their territories to raid and pillage the English in New England.

Acadia and New England The French Territories, and New England 1700 (click for larger) Swiped from the Maine State Archives, thanks Maine!

The war continued until the spring of 1713, and was concluded by the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht.  England gained control of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Eastern Maine and New Brunswick.  In Europe it established fixed national borders, many of which survive to the present.

Queen Anne died in 1714 and would be succeeded by George I.  During his reign  things would be relatively quite on the war front.  Apart from a minor rebellion by his son (George, Prince of Wales) after he bore him a Grandson, also named … wait for it … George.  Yes, the future King George III was causing trouble even as he was born.  We’ll learn a lot more about him when we come to the American Revolution.

There was one major war on the continent during his rule, the War of the Quadruple Alliance.  Once again the spat was over succession to the Spanish throne, and who owned parts of Italy.  This time Britain and France were on the same side.  What a fickle bunch.  The war which lasted from 1718 to 1720 was finally settled.  There were no battles in the colonies as a result of this war.

George I ruled to his death in 1727, and was followed by his son, George II.  This time New England wouldn’t be able to escape the continental spat.  England went to war in 1740 in the War of Austrian Succession!  Why is it always new royalty that starts these things?  It took 4 years for the war to make it across the Atlantic, King George’s War (the 3rd French and Indian War) would rage in New England from 1744 to 1748.  I’ll cover this war more in depth with the appropriate Historical Markers.

The end of the war wasn’t the end of the argument, however.  This time the conflict started in New England!  The 4th French and Indian War began in 1754 and this time spread east across the Atlantic and by 1756 had most of the world shooting at each other.  The war ended in 1763, three years after the death of George II.  There will be much more detail about this war in posts to come, as it was one of many triggers of the American Revolution.

Finally a very short note about that baby that caused a ruckus at his birth.  King George III assumed the throne in 1760 after the death of his father.

There will be much more on this brightly dressed fellow to come.  You can count on it.