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.