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The Granite monthly, a New Hampshire magazine, devoted to literature, history, and state progress (Volume 53) online

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which New Hampshire settlers were forced to take part. The pioneer always
had to have his gun within reach for the hostile redskin, and was frequently
called at short notice to join expeditions to the North. When away on such
occasions the women and children in the territory with which we are concerned
were conducted to the stockade and garrison at Nottingham.

In 1747, when Charles McCoy, whose name since designates the mountain
in Epsom, was trying to take his wife and child to that place, Indians captured
his wife, carried her to Canada and sold her as a slave to a Frenchman. The
story is that she subsequently came back but later said she wished she had stay-
ed in Canada, from which some of you may be unkind enough to infer that
Charles was not Coy enough. But if she had to climb his mountain often it was
not strange for her to have preferred the fertile plains of Canada.

In 1749 the township of Chichester extended from, what is now Pembroke
on the Southwest to Barnstead on the Northeast, with Epsom and Northwood
lying to the East. It was laid out into lots which were drawn for by the proprie-
tors, among the latter being Thomas Cram, John Cram, Benjamin Cram, and


John Wentworth, then Lieut. Governor of the Province, who drew a house lot
and 500 acres, subsequently including the farms of Tenney Batchelder and
Reuben T. Leavitt on the Southeasterly slope of Catamount.

The census of 1767 of Southeastern New Hampshire showed the inhabi-
tants settled for the most part as follows :

Portsmouth 4466 Chester 1 189

Londonderry (Now Manchester Brentwood 1064

and Derry) 2389 Barrington 1001

Exeter 1690 Concord 752

Dover 1614 Gilmanton 250

Epping 1410 Epsom 239

Hampton Falls 1381 Chichester not mentioned

Newmarket 1281

Durham 1232

So we see that in 1767 Hampton (included in Hampton Falls) was well
settled and the proprietors of the township of Chichester lived there and wanted
to sell it. Men from Exeter had settled in Gilmanton in 1761, and others began
to settle in Barnstead in 1767. Belknap, the standard historian of New Hamp-
shire, says "The improvement of the country at this time occupied the minds of
the people." Also, that between 1771, when the province was divided into five
counties, and 1791 the country was much improved in respect to roads: that its
business was chiefly in furs, fish and lumber, and its seaport was Newburyport.

John Cram came in 1768, at the request of the proprietors to explore and
report upon their lands. He had been engaged in the French and Indian Wars and
had the reputation of being a man of good judgment and trustworthy, and a
leader among men. Upon his report to the Hampton proprietors he was given a
deed of the water rights or mill privileges, one hundred acres of the adjacent
lands and fifteen pounds in money. Later he bought 1100 acres more at 10 cents
per acre so that he owned about all the land included within the present limits of
our village. At a still later period, he bought 100 acres more, part of which is
now owned and occupied by his great-grandson, Frank E. Cram, out on the Til-
ton Hill Road. The latter was a selectman of this town in 1901, when the first
Old Home Day was held here.

From 1769 to 1774 John Cram built a permanent dam, about where the
present one is above the cotton factory, a saw-mill, a frame house, barn and out-
buildings. His house was where the Washington Hotel now is : his barn on the
site of the present Union Block : his corn barn opposite his house on premises a
few years ago of Dr. R. P. J. Tenney, and now of Mr. Harold M. French. In
that corn barn he established the first school. He added a grist mill below his
saw mill. He was assisted in his undertaking by a young man named Chase
and probably by men from Epsom and Hampton in the first few years. He was
forty- four years old in 1774 when he brought his family here.

If you think of his sawmill as equipped with a circular saw you are mistaken,
because that kind of a saw was not invented until in 1777 by Samuel Miller in
England, and did not get into general use in this part of the country at Hart-
well's mill until about 1868. The saws in use in John Cram's time were of
strips of steel properly notched for teeth fitted into a strong, rectangular sash and
known as sash saws, which sash worked up and down in a strong frame. The
sash was made to operate up and down by a rod whose lever end extended to a
crank on one end of the water wheel shaft. In other words, the log was pushed
up against a saw working vertically instead of by circular motion, as in later
years. Very likely John Cram had to send to England for his saw : possibly he
got one in Newburyport or Boston.

In 1775 John Cram was commissioned a Captain to enlist men for the New
Hampshire force for the Revolutionary War.



In 1776 by vote of freeholders and inhabitants, attested by Daniel Knowlton,
Jonathan Stanyan, and Simeon Hilyard, the Committee of Safety, Capt. John
Cram was recommended to and appointed by the General Court, then held at
Exeter, a Justice of the Peace, an office of much more importance then than it
is now. Under the law of England prevailing here at that time this gave him
the title of "Esquire," one of dignity next above "gentleman" and below that of
a "Knight." So you can remember that John became "Esquire Cram" in the
same year that the Declaration of Independence was signed and was a magistrate
with power to keep the peace.

In 1777 he was chosen one of those to regulate prices in Chichester.

I came across a petition of the Committee of Safety in 1776 for the towns
of Newburyport, Haverhill, and ten other towns in the neighborhood of the
Merrimack River to the Council of the Colony of New Hampshire complaining
of the profiteering in the necessaries of life then prevalent, which sounds much
like what we have heard and suffered within recent years.

In John Fiske's History of the American Revolution, I found the following
as to the money and prices of those times:

Continental Currency

In 1778, paper dollar was worth 16 cents in Northern States.
In 1778, " " " " 12 " " Southern

In 1780, " " . " "2 " and before the end

paper dollars were worth 1 cent.
(Whence arose the expression "Not worth a
Indian corn sold in Boston @ Wholesale i
Butter .
Samuel Adams paid for hat and suit of clothes

of year ten

Continental") (Dollar).
) $150.00 per bushel
} 12.00 per pound

\ 90.00 per pound
\ 10.00 per pound

1 8.00 per pound

12.00 per pound
g 1,575.00 per barrel


Washington said it took a wagon load of money to buy a wagon load of

Four months' pay of a private soldier would not buy a single bushel of wheat
for his family.

Money ceased to circulate, debts could not be collected, and there was a
general prostration of credit.

With such conditions in the towns at the South we can well imagine the
hard times with which John Cram had to deal.

In 1781 the following inhabitants of Chichester petitioned the General Court
that the second and third divisions of that town be set off for a new town.


for Town of Pittsfield,

November 24, 1781.

Barton, Ebenezer

Eaton, Daniel

Prescott, Ebenezer

Barton, Josiah

Eaton, Elisha

Ring, Samuel

Berry, Joshua

Eaton, John

Sanborn, Edmond

Bickford, Thomas

Fogg, Jonathan

Sanborn, James

Blaso, John

Garland, Jonathan

Sargent, Edward

Brown, James

Gilman, Daniel

Smith, Winthrop

Brown, Jonathan

Goss, Joseph

Thurston, Benjamin

Chase, William

Haskell, Job

Tibbetts, Robert

Clifford, Ithiel

Leavitt, Reuben Towle

Tilton, John

Cram, John

Libbee, Isaac

Tinkers, Jonathan

Cram, Reuben

Marston, Joseph

White, Josiah

Cram, Wadleigh

Munsey, William

White, (Jona) Nathan

Dow, Jonathan

Nudd, Benjamin

Drake, James

Philbrick, Samuel

Valley Views and Public Library
Barnstead Bridge and Suncook River (Top)
Mill Dam
Josiah Carpenter Library



The petition was granted, the town incorporated March 27, 1782, and called
Pittsfield in honor of the elder William Pitt, the champion of the American
Colonists, and on May 12 the first town meeting of Pittsfield was called by and
held at the home of John Cram, inn-holder, at which he was elected to go to
Concord to form a plan of Government. Also Winthrop Smith, Job Haskell,
and James Drake were chosen the first Board of Selectmen, and John Cram,
Town Clerk, in which office he served until 1800 inclusive, serving one year
as a Selectman.

In 1783, the Selectmen certified that there were 120 persons in Pittsfield

to pay a poll tax.

In 1784, the Colony tax imposed on Pittsfield was nearly double the amount
assessed against Chichester, indicating that about two-thirds in value of the real
and personal property of the original township of Chichester was considered to
have been set off into Pittsfield.

In the period between 1782 and 1802, inclusive, said James Drake, grand-
father of our Nathaniel S. Drake, served 17 years and my great-grandfather,
Joshua Berry, served 8 years as Selectmen. The records do not indicate that
the people were much troubled with town politics in those days and it is fair
to infer that Squire Cram "fixed the slate" at his tavern so that town meetings
ran smoothly.

In 1789, John Cram was one of the organizers of the First Orthodox Con-
gregational church in Pittsfield, and he gave land sufficient for the site of the
church and the graveyard by it, being the land now occupied by the Town Hall
on Main Street and the cemetery by the side and rear of it. The original mem-
bers were John Cram and his wife, Jonathan Perkins and wife, Edward Sargent
and wife, Benjamin Nudd, and two others. Its first minister was Rev. Christo-
pher Paige from Hopkinton, who married the widow Fletcher, of whose daugh-
ter Grace Fletcher I will speak a little later. Mr. William Henry Berry was the
orator at the hundredth anniversary in 1889 of the founding of the Church.

You will recall that in 1789 Washington was first elected President of the
United States.

One of the first things done by the new Government, for taxation and other
purposes, was to take an account of the people in it and I have the census of
1790 taken of this town of Pittsfield from which those of you who wish can
pick out your ancestors if they were here then. I will not read it, because it
would tire you to listen to it. You can find it printed in the Valley Times issue
of the 19th inst. The summary of it is — :

United States Census, 1790.

Heads of

Free white males 16 years

and upwards. Heads of

Families included.

Under 16

Free white

All other








The following were
Berry. Joshua, Lt.
Berry, Thomas, Lt.
Blake, Enoch, Sergt.
Brown, James
Bunker, Dodifer
Chase, Nathaniel
Cram, Reuben
Drake, James, Lt.
Fogg. Jonathan

included as soldiers of
Garland, Jeremiah
Goss, Joseph
Green, Bradbury
Green, Jonathan
Haskell, Job. Capt.
Jonson, Thomas
Kerby, John
Knowlton. David
Libbee, Isaac

the Revolutionary War
Norris, Moses
Philbrick, Samuel
Prescott, Ebenezer
Sandborn, Edmund
Seavey, Isaac
Swett, Thomas R.
Tibbits, Robert
True, John


Also, these Veterans settled in Pittsfield before or after the taking of
said Census :

Bean, Ebenezer Lovering, (wrestler) Sias, John

Bennett, David Tilton Hill Swett, Benjamin

Blaso (Blaisdell) John Sanborn, James Wallis, William

Chapman, Jonathan Sargent, Rev. Benjamin White, Josiah

Eaton, John Shaw, John

Twenty-seven or twenty-eight of the above named Veterans were buried
in the Old Cemetery by our present Town Hall.

A story of a Revolutionary Veteran is of Lovering, famous as a wrestler,
who lived on Tilton Hill, whose wife was a large, strong Scotch woman. In
in those days collar and elbow wrestling was much in vogue. A stranger called
at Lovering's one day when he was away and said he came to have a bout
with him. Mrs. Lovering said she was sorry to have him go away disappointed
and, to accomodate him, she would take him on. She did, and took two straight
falls out of him, and told him that her husband generally laid her out: whereupon
the stranger allowed he did not want any more of that family.

Bradbury Green, a veteran, lived on Catamount, and was a drummer in the
Revolutionary War. He liked to tell that he drummed for the procession which
conducted Major Andre, a British Spy, to be hung, and that, at the latter's
request, he beat a short quick step. I have heard my father say that Bradbury
Green taught him so that he drummed for the Militia in later years at training
on Deerfield Parade.

But while John Cram found and established the dam and mill site in what
is now your village, my great grandfather, Joshua Berry found your Berry Pond
of good water in the Spring of 1779 and soon had a famous grist mill, saw mill,
and general store by a dam site, which attracted to its vicinity for many years
more settlers and trade than John Cram's did, although the Squire's finally won
out because he kept a tavern to which it was an easy down grade from the Upper
City and Gilmanton, and, after 1818, Uncle John Berry dispensed good rum
from his store on the site of what is now the Valley Times Office, the merchan-
dise of which while good to take, is not as seductive as that which Uncle John
sold. This town was really settled by a Cram and a Berry, a pretty good com-
bination, especially about Thanksgiving Time.

My great grandfather came out of the Revolutionary War a Lieutenant, was
married in Greenland, came up here, built his log house where the front part of
Frank Dennett's now is on Berry Road and put in his mills at the foot of the
short hill down from the house on the left or easterly side and a store on the
westerly side of the road ; thence the road ran southwesterly and westerly
up the hill and overlooking the pond (now called Berry Pond Road) to what was
early known as Governor's Road, at corner called Knowlton's, and now Sander-
son's, and thence turning northwest to go to Cram's mills, or southeast to go to
Northwood, Nottingham, and down country, or to keep straight ahead at the
corner, go up over the ledge where the Quaker Burying Ground now is to the
South Road and Epsom.

In 1775 Daniel Eaton and Thomas Jonson came from down country, the former
locating on the southeasterly slope of Catamount where Freeman Brown now
lives, giving the name to Eaton Pond ; the latter located on Catamount where
Eugene A. Davis now owns, and overlooks the country for 75 miles around.

In 1785 William Berry, brother of said Joshua, settled on Catamount and
later built the house now owned by my sister, Miss Fanny H. Berry, on Berry
Road. He and his descendants had much to do with the life of this town as I


will later show. He and his son John were well-known "characters" and kept
men and things moving.

In the early part of the last century, the old (Berry) road to Northwood
Narrows ran from Capt. Joshua Berry's straight up a very steep grade to
Johnson's, and then southerly over to and by the west end of William Berry's
house and down to Eaton's. I've heard tell that Major Bill, as he was called,
got tired of driving up to Johnson's and across to his house, so he petitioned
to have the road laid out along the face of the ledge as it now runs : that he had
the Selectmen come to his house to take a view : that they saw the old road and
the proposed new one and, by the aid of glasses, saw the wonderful view and
other things; that they drove or rode home after dark; that when they met the
next time they had some difficulty in recalling just what was said and done on
that visit; and that finally the Chairman found in the top of the hat he had worn
that day their vote to re-locate the road as prayed for signed by all three of
them, but in handwriting not quite as well as they could write. They recalled
with pleasure the trip, the wonderful view through the glasses, that Major Bill
was a mighty good feller, and it wouldn't make any difference to Johnson anyway.
That took a crook out of the Berry Road over Catamount.

Thomas Berry, of Greenland, a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War,
cousin and brother in law of Joshua, located on the westerly slope of Tucker
Hill where Mr. Davies now is. Some Tuckers and William Watson, on Tucker
Hill, John Tilton, John True, and Lovering located on what has long been
known as Tilton Hill. ,

After that War military training was kept up and Lieut. Joshua became
Capt. Joshua Berry, and was so known for the last 25 years or so of his life
until his death in 1825. Lieut. James Drake, who settled in South Pittsfield in
1774 with good Quakers for his neighbors, was so promoted until he was long
known as Major Drake.

Capt. Joshua's sons were Isaiah, who married and lived at the homestead,
Joshua Cate, who married and built the house next this side, where Edgar Davis
now lives : Thomas, who married and built what is now the first house on the
northerly side of the Pond Road as you go up from the old mill-site and now
owned by Charles M. Chase, son of Nathaniel Chase. Joshua Cate Berry built
a blacksmith and wheelwright's shop nearly opposite his house by the brook,
which he worked in about forty years from 1816: the shop was torn down 15 or
20 years ago.

In 1796 the road was made from Capt. Joshua's as it now runs, down "shingle
mill" hill past Philester S. Elliott's and through the sand hills to the present
village. That hill in Berry Road just beyond where Lewis Adams now lives
was called "Shingle Mill" because, for many years after 1825, said Joshua C.
Berry had a dam and shingle mill on the brook on the northeast of the road.

In the period from 1787 to 1800 Capt. Joshua Berry's account book shows
62 men with whom he did business at his store and mills, probably only a part
of his customers.

In an article of the late Henry L. Robinson I find that he obtained much
information from my uncle, Jonathan M. Berry, then of Evanston, Illinois,
and other sources, from which he wrote that in and about 1796 the houses and
buildings in the present village and to the south and east along Governor's Road
and Berry Pond Road were those of John Cram (where a part of the Washing-
ton House now is), the meeting house (now the Town Hall) ; house of Jonathan
Cram opposite: Jonathan Fogg's (now owned by Ralph W. Sanborn) ; the par-
sonage built by Rev. Christopher Page, now owned by William B. Ely; then,

Pittsfield Public Schools

Pittsfield Academy (High School) (Top)

Grammar School

Hattie Tuttle Folsom Memorial


about a mile and a half beyond, Simon Green's (late of J. C. Mcintosh and now
owned by Sanderson) ; then Elder David Knowlton's where Mr. Sanderson has
his summer residence. Then turning to the northeast into Berry Pond Road
there were the Freewill Baptist Meeting House, and several dwelling houses be-
fore reaching Capt. Joshua Berry's store and mills. Robinson called that a
business street of the town. Going west from Cram's mill at that time my
information is that just across the river was Ly ford's tannery and a school
house near by. Houses "above the river," as that section was called, were those
of James Cram, the bricks in the chimney hauled from Epping (by ox-team, of
course) ; the Lyford house, later of William G. French ; Ebenezer and Samuel
Prescott's houses on Concord Hill; and those of David Drake, John Sias, Thomas
R. Swett, Jonathan Perkins, Jabez James, Samuel Batchelder, Edward Sar-
gent and Benjamin Nudd scattered to the west and northwest. The "Upper
City," as it was called, above and beyond Lyford Hill had a store kept by William
Simpson, another by Job Demerritt; a blacksmith's shop of Lieut. John Hill;
the house of Robert Tibbetts, a tavern, the postofnce, a harness maker's, a car-
penter's, and shoemaker's shops. There was a stage route from Concord through
Chichester to what is now called Kelley's corner, then over Ring's (later Brown's)
Hill to Upper City and Gilmanton.

Now you have come with me to the year 1800 and I hope you have in mind
a tolerably good picture of Pittsfield as it was then known and seen by Squire
Cram near the close of his life as he viewed the results of his coming here in
1768. Of course you would like a picture of John Cram himself. The best I
can do for you is to say that I caused strict search to be made in and about the
several apartments of Hen. Osgood's Studio and Hen is very positive that he
hasn't seen the negative of John Cram since Newman Durell was in there last
to borrow some bait.

On August 30, 1803, John Cram born in Hampton Falls, Nov. 12, 1730,
passed on to his reward, having served the inhabitants of the towns of Chiches-
ter and Pittsfield as Justice of the Peace, Town Clerk, Selectman, Surveyor, saw
and grist miller, tavern-keeper, and public spirited citizen for over thirty years.
Dr. Jeremiah Blake, historian, and Mr. William Henry Berry have spoken of
him as the "Father of the Town of Pittsfield." Mr. Berry also said of him
"Looked up to and respected by all, his word was law. For more than 25 years
he was an official of the town, serving without compensation, except expenses
paid out. Monarch of all he surveyed, he exercised his trust wisely and well.
He was a strong, devoted Christian character."

Passing along with the history of the town we note that in 1810 its popula-
tion was 1050 (a gain of 178 or 19% since the 1790 Census).

In 1812 the village consisted of the Congregational Meeting House where
the Town Hall now (1921) is; the next building west of that was a store, and
the next west of that one house of William Butters, Esq., since replaced by the
Advent Church and residence lately of Dr. Wheeler and next west, at corner of
Road to Barnstead, was house of Fogg, later of Carroll and the tavern kept by
W. Bryant Drake, which burned down June 18, 1865 and was succeeded by the
residence of Gov. Tuttle, now owned and occupied by Dr. Frank H. Sargent,
who can issue only a limited number of prescriptions for that alleged medicine
Berry dispensed as a beverage at sight of the coin only. The next building of
importance further west was the homestead of John Cram, then occupied by his
son, John Cram. Crossing the bridge, on the Concord Road, were the houses
of Hilliard and David Smith, and at the top of the hill were those of Ebenezer
Prescott and his son, Samuel W. Prescott, as before stated. Going back to the


bridge and following around were a blacksmith shop, a fulling mill, a carding
mill, Lyford's Tannery, and the River Schoolhouse. The paper at that time
used was unruled; blank copy and account books were home-made. There were
no lead pencils, but pieces of lead were used, some obtained from land near
Berry Pond. Ink was home-made, some made of iron, copperas and vinegar,
some of maple bark and copperas, obtained by boiling rocks containing copper:
such rock was found near Wild Goose Pond.

Dr. Jeremiah Blake, born in Pittsfield in 1800, /?as written that during his
boyhood the boys were taught reading, spelling, writing and arithmetic, and the
girls were taught the same except arithmetic, because it was thought they didn't
need to know it since their business was to do housework, spin, weave, milk the
cow, and make butter and cheese. Another reason probably was that the ancients
didn't want the girls and women folk to get too familiar with the small amount
of money there was in circulation and increase the circulation of it by requiring
the purchase of goods, even for short dresses and finery, to attract the attention
of the boys. But school copy-books in possession of Mr. Drake used here by
some girls in 1815 show that some girls were then "some" on sums.

This reminds me of an interesting fact I came across in examining Capt.
Joshua Berry's account book, wherein I found that in 1795 he first mentioned
having paid Abram French ten dollars, which he charged as 3£ English money;
and not until in 1806 did he change from keeping his accounts in English to
United States money. This suggests that United States money began to circulate
in 1795, but it took ten or eleven years for the old-timers to get used to it.

Dr. Blake also wrote that in 1809 and 1810 the first road wagon — called a
Dutch wagon — and the first bellows-top chaise were seen in town as novelties.
I remember such a chaise stored up overhead in the woodshed of my grand-

Online Library1884 numbers of the Bay state monthlyBe the first and subjects of first 10 volumes and List of porThe Granite monthly, a New Hampshire magazine, devoted to literature, history, and state progress (Volume 53) → online text (page 50 of 57)