Marker #78 Odiorne’s Point

27 10 2009

IMG_0257 Marker text:

Here, in the spring of 1623, was established New Hampshire’s first settlement, Pannaway Plantation. David Thompson and other hardy fishermen came from England to colonize and develop trade. They built a stone manor house, smithy, cooperage, fort and stages for drying fish on nearby Flake Hill. Thompson’s son, John, was the first child born in New Hampshire.


Located in Rye, on the north side of NH 1-A, by the entrance to the Odiorne Point State Park boat launch.  Erected in 1971. Just after the boat launch, and before the bridge, the marker is located in shrubbery behind the fence.  Park at the boat launch and walk.


The Boat Launch from across the bridge.

First a correction to the previous post.  This marker, as described on the official NH Website notes the date as 1632.  Clearly a typo, the actual marker says 1623.  Also, it does not claim to be a permanent settlement.  My bad.  I’ll leave the mistakes intact as a lesson to myself.

This is where David Thompson (discussed briefly in the previous post) decided to set up his business.  He had a pretty good plan, too.  Fisherman that would operate from the Isles of Shoals would bring their catches here, and he would resell them back in the Old World.

The expedition that had brought Thompson, the Hilton Bros. and others, operating under the grant to Georges and Mason called themselves “The Laconia Company.”

“One of these companies landed on the southern shore of the river, at its mouth, and called the place Little-Harbor. Here, they erected salt-works, and built an house which was afterwards called Mason-Hall.”

Belknap, p4


“The locality which should be the most venerated, not only by our own townsmen, but by every citizen of New Hampshire, is certainly where the first emigrants landed, and the spot on which was erected the first house in New Hampshire. How many associations cluster around this beginning of the history of our State. Less sacred they may be than those which surround the Plymouth Rock, – for the first settlers of New Hampshire came here to trade and fish, while the Pilgrims landed there for the enjoyment of religious freedom.”

Charles W. Brewster – 1850s

Over the next few years, the settlers traded and negotiated with the local Native Americans.  In fact, some managed to purchase tracts of land from them.  Who else, but those meddlers from Massachusetts:

In 1629 Rev. John Wheelwrigth and others of the Massachusetts Bay Colony purchased of the Indians for what they deemed a valuable consideration in “coats, shirts and kettles” a considerable tract of land between the Piscataqua and the Merrimack.

New Hampshire, as it is pp 12-13

Oops.  That was the tract of land granted by the King to Captain Mason, and now those bums from Massachusetts are trying to buy it from the Indians!  You know how New Hampshire used to be part of Massachusetts? You guessed it, this is where it started.  But don’t worry, Capt. Mason was not a man to be trifled with.  We’ll cover that in the next marker.

Back to David Thompson.   For some unknown reason (there is conjecture from historians, but no proof) he abandoned his plantation around 1626, left the land to the Hiltons, and went off to claim Thompson Island in today’s Boston Harbor.

Map picture

He started another trading post there, and died in 1628.

The name Odiorne’s Point comes from the Odiorne family, that settled here around 1660.

Also interestingly, there is a Sunken Forest off shore. An old article here.

Marker #92, Hilton’s Point -1623

26 10 2009


Marker Text:

The first settlement at Dover was made here at the southernmost point of Dover neck and was called Hilton’s Point after Edward and William Hilton. They were fishmongers from London who, in 1623, established their fishing industry at this scenic site.

Hilton State Park, Dover.  Exit’s to the park are on both sides of Rt16 (exit 5). The marker was erected in 1973.


IMG_0272 Hilton’s Point State Park, 11/01/09


Descendents Memorial, 1955

The next three markers are all interconnected with each other.  Some dates are wrong on the markers themselves*, or a bit misleading in some cases.  The original History books are murky in their explanations of charters and grants, who gets what where, etc.

What is true: In March of 1621 or 2, John Mason was granted Cape Anne, from Salem, MA to the mouth of the Merrimac river.   In August 1622 Sir Frances Gorges, and Captain John Mason were jointly awarded

… a territory to be known as the Province of Maine lying between the Merrimac and Kennebek rivers “to the furthest heads of said Rivers and soe into the land westward”

So there are two land grants to Mason and Georges.  Enter David Thompson. In October 1622, the council awarded him his choice of 6000 acres of land an an island of his choice somewhere within the New England grant!  What a deal!  By December 1622, he was already hiring men and ships.

He arrived in 1623.  We’ll talk more about him in another.  For now, all you need to know is that brothers Hilton came with him.

Finally we can get to the Marker!

The Hilton bros were merchants from London, and members of the Fishmonger’s Guild.  Stop laughing.  It still exists today in the UK as “The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers” and they have a coat of  arms.

They established, at Hilton State Park on Dover’s point the first permanent settlement. I emphasize, because the next marker makes that claim*.

The had a fish business going there, and everything was going on swimmingly, until a troublemaker from Massachusetts upset the applecart

To their credit, the Hilton’s stayed

From Belknap’s History

"These settlements went on but slowly for several years, but the natives being peaceable and several oiher small beginnings being made along the coast as far as Plymouth, a neighborly intercourse was kept up among them, each following their respective employments of fishing, trading and planting, till the disorderly behaviour of one Morion, at Mount Wollaston in the bay of Massachusetts, caused an alarm among the scattered settlements as far as Pascataqua. This man had, in defiance of the king’s proclamation, made a practice of selling arms and ammunition to the Indians, whom he employed in hunting and fowling for him; so that the English, seeing the Indians armed in the woods, began to be in terror. They also apprehended danger of another kind; for Morton’s plantation was a receptacle for discontented servants whose desertion weakened the settlements, and who, being there without law, were more formidable than the savages themselves. The principal persons of Pascataqua therefore readily united with their neighbors, in making application to the colony of Plymouth, which was of more force than all the rest, to put a stop to this growing mischief; which they happily effected by seizing Morton and sending him prisoner to England.”

This is not surprising. Even today, the troublemakers from Massachusetts are everywhere.  Some things never change.

*Corrections are needed to these statements, to be addressed in the next post – Mike