Charles Henry Bell.

History of the town of Exeter, New Hampshire online

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Online LibraryCharles Henry BellHistory of the town of Exeter, New Hampshire → online text (page 1 of 51)
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^l\ chief aim in preparing tliis history has been to make it
useful. I have quoted hxrgely from the manuscript records of the
town, because they are liable to be destroyed, and what is in
print is safe. For the same reason, and for the benefit of gene-
alogists, I have given many lists of early names.

A town history is valuable almost in proportion to the accessi-
bility of its contents. For the sake of ease of reference I have
made a general classification of subjects in the present work ;
have introduced numerous sub-titles ; have arranged all consider-
able lists of names in alphabetical order ; have given a full table
of contents at the beginning and a sufficient index at the end.
Classification necessitates some repetition, but that is of small
consequence in comparison with the advantages of the method.

A complete genealogical history of Exeter is a desideratum.
Rut it would be a work of years. In this volume will be found
all the information deemed most valuable to the investigator of
family histor}', whicli is contained in the records of the town ;
to wit : all the " family registers " in any books ; all the marriages
and births in the first (oldest) book, and all the deaths in the
same, before the year ISOO.

In addition to these 1 have added, from other sources, the fol-
lowing : excerpts from the records of old Norfolk county, jNIassa-
chusetts ; a list of all the baptisms of children in Exeter, by the
Rev. Woodbridge Odlin, between 1743 and 1763 ; a list of all the
publishments of intentions of marriage in the town between 1783
and 1800. These lists may properly ho torniod new^ as thoy are

iv riiEFACE.

taken from niauuscripts •v\-liicli have not been open to public

The orthography of proper names has been a source of per-
plexity. A uniform rule is hard to fix and harder to follow. In
spite of the best intentions variations have crept in. My only
consolation is that I liavc probably not spelt names in half so
many ways as their owners did.

]My thanks are especially due to Professor Bradbury L. Cilley
for the unlimited use of the maiuiscripts of his grandfather, the
Hon. John Kelly, and of the late William Smith, Esq., each of
whom planned a history of the town ; also to John Ward Dean,
Esq., of Boston, and to my townsmen Messrs. George W. Dear-
born, John T. Perry, William H. Belknap, Edward Giddings and
many others who have most ol)ligingly aided me in o])taining

It would be idle to suppose that this work is free from mistakes.
In writing the history of a town the difficulties may be said to be
in a du'ect ratio to the remoteness of the period treated of.
Exeter being two hundred and fifty years old, the information
respecting it has had to be gleaned from a multitude of sources,
and the liabilities to errors of all kinds are correspondingly
increased. The greatest care and pains have been bestowed,
however, to insure accuracy, and it is hoped that mistakes will
not be found to be numerous or important.

My townsmen will of course note many omissions, due for the
most part to limited time and space. It is not believed that they
will seriously detract from the value of the work to others.

CiiAULES 11. Bell.




Exeter as an Independent Republic. — The Rev. John Wheelwright ;
the deeds from the Indians; the disputed Indian deed of 1G29 ; trials of
the opening year; the first church; another Indian deed; the Combina-
tion ; the first criminal proceeding ; the Elders' oath ; the oath of the
people ; first allotment of lands ; notices of early settlers ; early enact-
ments 3 — 43


Exeter under the Massachusetts Government. — The conditions of
annexation ; the fishery ; the care of the cattle ; the staple commodity ;
project for a change of government; number and names of inhabi-
tants 44 — 61


Exeter under the New Hampshire Provincial Government.—
Gove's rebellion against Cranfield ; Robert Tufton Mason's land suits ;
resistance to illegal taxation; the province without a government;
specimens of early tOAvn accounts; the mast-tree riot of 1734; a dis-
orderly election ; demonstration against the stamp act ; patriotic action
of the town in 1770; another patriotic expression of the town; help for
the suffering poor of Boston; the census of 177i5; the earliest written
Constitution. . . . . . . . , , G2 89


Exeter under the State Government. — The Association test of
1776; first reading of the Declaration of Independence; the evils of a
paper currency; the paper money mob of 1786 ; the Convention for the
adoption of the Federal Constitution ; the visit of Washington ; court-
house, fire engine, library, etc. ; honors to the memory of Washington ;
temperance; War of 1812; prayer in town meetings; support of the
poor; celebration of bi-centennial ainiiversary ; re-naming streets; new
court-house ; ligliting streets ; sidewalks ; steam fire engine ; water
V'orks 90 — 111

Vi ( ((NTK.NIS.


BoiNDAUIKS AMI DlMSIOXS; KoAUSAM) Iiiait(ii;s. — Tlu' Hain])toil
l)oniul of l().j;}; the Dover bound of 1(5.53; Captain Thomas Wij^gin's
tlcfd of gift ; cnlarponicnt of Kxctcr honnds ; Squaniscot Patent under
Kxetcr f^overninent : to\vnshi])s carved from I-xetcr territory ; liipliways,
theii* location, laving out and repairs; bridges; the village streets.

irj— 128


Tin: Common Lands. — Lands of Kdward and ^\'illianl Hilton ; grants of
town lands ; list of distributees of land as reported in 172o ; proceedings
to hasten a distribution ; final distribution. . . . I'JO — IW


Ofi'ICKUS ok TllK Town. — T,ist of town olfieers : rulers; assistant rulers;
town clerks; selectmen; moderators; repiesentatives. . 117 — 1<52


Tin; FiKST lli;i,i(;ioi'.s Socikty. — Attempts to get a ])astor, after Mr.
Wheelwright's departure ; Mr. Dudley engaged; new house of worship ;
dilHculty of paying salary; fears of losing Mr. Dudley; death of Mi-.
Dudley ; Elder Wentworth temporarily employed. . . loo — 170

C1I.\1'I1;K IX.

TlIK FlKST Socikty and its Oi-i- shouts. — A new meeting-house; re-
organization of the church ; death of Mr. Clark ; engagement of Mr.
John Odlin ; ])arish of Newmarket set ofl"; a new meeting-house ;
ICpping parish set off; Brentwood ])arish set off"; Rev. Woodbridge
Odlin. colleague ; second ])arish incorjiorated ; succession of pastors,
Isaac Mansfield, William F. Rowland. John Smith. William M'illiams,
Joy H. Fairchild, ]loswell D. Hitchcock, William D. Hitchcock, Nathan-
iel Lasell, VAiaa Nason, John O. Harrows, Swift JJyington. 171 — lil.'J

(■llAl''ii;K X.

Tin. Skconu I'AKisii ; Otiiik IlKi.Uiiors Sociktiks. — I{ev. l)aniel
Rogers; his e])itaph ; Jose])!! Hrown ; Isaac Hurd ; Asa Mann: Orpheus
T. Lanphear ; John \\'. Ciiickering, Jr.; (Jeorge 11. Street; Quakers;
the Raptist society ; the Universalist society ; the Christian society ;
the Methodist society; the Advent society; the Roman Catholic
society; tlie Unitarian society ; the l^piscopal society. . UM — I'll




The Indian and French "Wars. — Philip's war; King William's -war;
services of Exeter men ; a fortunate esca])e ; Queen Anne's war ; Colonel
AVinthrop Hilton's expeditions ; his death ; occurrences of 1712 ; assault
u])on the liollins family ; the Louisburg expedition ; roll of Captain
Light's company; occurrences of 1746; the Crown Point expeditions ;
Captain Nathaniel Folsom at Lake George ; capitulation of Fort William
Henry; inventory of Major John Oilman's losses; later expeditions
against French posts ; the Exeter Cadets. . . . 121.5 — 2;J9


The Revohttion and the AVar of 1812. — The powder from Fort Wil-
liam and Mary ; the Exeter volunteers march to Cambridge : Exeter
soldiers in 1116 ; in 177(5; in 1777; in 177S ; in 1779; in 1780; in
1781 ; supplies furnished by the town to soldiers' families; the AYar of
1812 ; roll of Captain Nathaniel Oilman's company ; roll of Captain
James Thom's company. 240 — 2^9


The War for the Union. — Exeter soldiers in the several New Hampshire
regiments ; in the military or naval service. Notices of officers, Gen.
Oilman Marston ; Lieutenant Colonel Henry H. Pearson ; Lieutenant
Colonel Moses N. Collins ; Captain Albert M. Perkins. . 260 — 282


The Schools and Academies. — Law of Massachusetts and NeAv Hamp-
shire ; list of early instructors ; town orders concerning schools ; forma-
tion of school districts ; the Robinson Female Seminary; the Phillips
Exeter Academy ; the Female Academy. . . . 285 — ;}00


The Press. — The earliest newspaper ; first New Testament printed in tlie
State ; samples of early journalism ; the N'ews-Letter ; the Gazette and
present publications ; contril)utors to the press. . . ."JOl .314



Mills and MANriACTURES. — The first saw-mill ; Pickpocket falls granted ;
Crawley's falls; Picki)ocket; paper-mills; powder-mills; -falls of the
Squamscot ;" Exeter Manufacturing Comjiany; other water-mills.

:jl7 — :5:m



lil'SINKss AM) Tkahk. — I.nmberiuf,'; sliip-huilding ; ])ottcry ; duckiiiixnu-
factory ; sadiUery and carriti^cs ; liats ; wool; leather; the earlier mer-
chants ; banks ; insurance companies 335 — 348



Judges and Lawyers. — John Oilman; Robert "Wadleigh ; Kinsley Hall ;
Peter Coffin ; Richard Hilton ; Nicholas Oilman ; Samuel Oilman ;
Nicholas Perryman ; Noah Emery; AVilliam Parker; John Pickering;
Oliver Peabody ; Nathaniel Parker ; Oeorge Sullivan ; Moses Ilodgdon;
Solon Stevens ; Jeremiah Smith ; James Thom ; Joseph Tilton ; Jotham
Lawrence ; Stephen Peabody ; Jeremiah Fellowes ; Oeorge Lamson ;
William Smith ; Oliver AV. B. Peabody ; John Sullivan ; Samuel T.
Oilman; James Ik-U ; John Kelly; Timothy Farrar; Amos Tuck;
Henry V. French ; John S. Wells ; AVilliam AV. Stickncy ; Alva AVood ;
George C. Peavey ; other lawyers. .... 349 — 377


Medical Me.n. — Thomas Deane; Josiah Oilman; Dudley Odlin ; Robert
Oilman; I'Uiphalet Hale ; John Oiddinge ; John Odlin; Nathaniel Oil-
man ; Caleb O. Adams; Joseph Tilton; Samuel Tenney ; Nathaniel
I'eabody ; William Parker, Jr., Nathan North; William Perry; David
W. Oorham ; Samuel U. Swett ; other physicians. . . 378 — 389


Families and I.ndividuals. — Dudley family; Folsom family; Leavitt
family; Thing family ; Conner family ; Lyford family ; Robinson family;
Smith families; Odlin family ; IJarker, Colcord, DoUoft', Kimball, Shute
and others. Jonathan Cass; Enoch Poor; John Rogers; James Bur-
ley; Samuel Hatch; Seth Walker; Joseph Pearson; Waddy V. Cobbs;
John C. Long. The colored population. . . . 390 — 399

ciiai'Ti:k XXI.

Homicides; Bi-rial-I'laces;«Tiie " Wiihe Caps." — Mrs. AVillix ; John-
son; John Wadleigh ; Mrs. I'Vrgusou ; first four jniblic burial-i)laces ;
the cemetery ; other burial-places. 'J'he " White ca])s ;" their search for
hidden trca.sure 403 — 414



Things New and Old. — Trees ; the oldest elm ; early houses ; the Clif-
ford house ; Dean house ; Ladd house ; Rowland house ; Odiorne
house ; Hildreth house ; Peabody house ; Oilman house ; Tilton house ;
other old houses ; statistics; societies; localities. . . 415 — 428


I. The Indian deed of 1629 to Wheelwright and others. II, Transcripts of
the Exeter Records, 1G39 to 1644. III. Extracts from Hon. Jeremiah
Smith's bi-centennial address, 1838. .... 431 — 469


Family Registers, from the Exeter Records. Marriages, from the Exe-
ter Records. Births, from the town Records. Deaths, prior to the
year 1800, from the town Records. Births, Deaths and Marriages
from the earliest town Records. ^Marriages, Births and Deaths
from the Records of old X'orfolk county, in Massachusetts. Baptisms
of children in the First society, from 1743 to 1763. Publishments of
intentions of marriage, from 1783 to 1800. . . . 3 §2


Page 149, Thomas Deane, X^athaniel "Webster and Josiah Oilman were
selectmen in 1741.
" lol, John Oilman was representative in 1697 as well as in 1693.
" 219, line 38, for Huntson, read Huntoon.
" 220, note, for Edward, read X'athaniel, Swasey.
" 239, line 13, for lieutenant, Colonel, read lieutenant colonel.


Fac-simile of Exeter "Combination" draAvn July 4, 1639;

re-subscribed April 2, 1640 Frontis.

Plan of the village of Exeter in 1802 Page 103

Exeter with its sub-divisions " 121

Plan of the township of Exeter in 1802 "317





The river Pascataqua which forms the bound, next the sea,
between New Hampshire and Maine, may, with its tributaries, be
rudely represented by a man's left hand and wrist laid upon a
table, back upwards and fingers wide apart. The thumb would
stand for the Salmon Falls or Newichwannoclv river, the forefinger
for Bellamy river, the second finger for Oyster river, the third for
Lamprey river and the fourth for Exeter or Squamscot river ;
while the palm of the hand would represent the Great Bay, into
which most of those streams pour their waters, and the wrist the
Pascataqua proper.

Before the foundation of Exeter there were but two organized
settlements within the limits of New Hampshire, the one at the
mouth of the Pascataqua about Strawberry Bank, now Ports-
mouth ; the other about Dover at the confluence of the Salmon
Falls and the Pascataqua. Both settlements were straggling,
small and weak, being wholly self-ruled, for as yet there was no
general government in New Hampsliire. The Europeans who
composed the population had most of tliem come thither to better
their worldly condition by fishery and trade, and with no purpose
of a religious character. The greater number of them were bred
in the English church, and had little sympathy with the Puritans
of the Massachusetts Bay.

Besides the inhabitants of these two settlements there were a
few scattered dwellers along the Pascataqua and its afilucnts.
Two of the most prominent of these, Edward Hilton and Thomas
Wiggin, belong to Exeter history. Hilton was originally a fish-
monger in the city of London, and emigrated to this country in
1623, doubtless with the expectation of engaging in the fishery
here. He settled in Dover at what is now styled the Point, and
after seven years obtained from the Council of Plymouth, under
the authority of the British Crown, a grant of lands on tlic upper


Pnst'ata«ina, known as the Hilton or Sqnaniscot Patent. It em-
braced Dover Point and a belt of territory south of the Pascataqua
and cast of the Sqnaniscot, three miles in breadth, and extcndin*;
to the falls of the latter river, at what is now Kxeter. This grant
afterwards passed into the hands of a companj' who appointed
Captain Thomas "Wiggin their agent.

Hilton and Wiggin had before IGJO both quitted. Dover, and
planted themselves on opposite sides of the Squamscot, and within
three or four miles of the falls. There they were found by the
company who settled Exeter, on their arrival, or soon afterward,
Hilton domiciled in what is now South Newmarket, and AViggin
in what is now Stratham. Both were men of enterprise and natu-
ral leaders, and each, no doul>t, had his retainers about him. Hil-
ton was attached, in a quiet way, to the observances of the Eng-
lish church, and, conse(piently, was held in small consideration by
the Puritan authorities of the iSIassachusetts liay, when they came
subseciuently to rule over the New Hampshire settlements. AVig-
gin's religious professions harmonized more nearly with their own,
and h^'onsequently enjoyed a much greater share of their appro-
bation and conlidence.

Jf we arc to credit tradition tliere were three other persons
dwelling at the falls of the Squamscot before the arrival of
the company of Wheelwright in 1638. These were Ralph Hall,
Thomas Leavitt and Thomas "Wilson, all of whom were located on
the eastern side of the river, while most of the other early comers
chose the western side. Hall and Leavitt w^ere young men, and
may, for aught we know, have l)een the pioneers of the settle-
mt-nt ; but the antecedents of Wilson leave little room to doubt
tiiat he was of Wheelwright's company.

The falls of the Scjuamscot, round which tlie village of Exeter
has clustered from the beginning, are formed by the passage of a
beautiful iiilnud stream over a succession of ledges into a broad
basin ImIow, wlicrc its waters mingle with the tides from the sea.
This was a well known lisliing place of the Indians. The country
around was covered, for the most part, with dense forests, broken
here and there by tracts of natural meadow, and l)y marshes bor-
ilcring ui)on the tide-water.

On the third day of April, 1(;;'.S, the Pev. John Wheelwright
purchased by a (Ii'<m1 I'loin the local sagamore ami his son, a re-
lease of the right of the Indian occupants to this locality and to a
tract of the surrounding country, thirty miles in extent, reaching


from the northern boundary of the Massachusetts Bay on the
south, to the Pascataqua patents on the east, and on the north to
Oyster river. His purpose in making the purchase was to begin
a settlement, to which he gave the name of Exeter.*


Mr. Wheelwright, who is justly styled the founder of Exeter,
deserves a more extended notice. He was born in or near the
hamlet of Saleby in Lincolnshire, England, probably in the early
part of the year 1592. His father was a man of sufficient means
to afford him a university education, and to leave him heir to some
freehold property. At Sidney College, Cambridge, he gained his
bachelor's degree in 1614, and that of M. A. four years later.
One of his fellow collegians was the famous Oliver Cromwell, who
afterwards bore testimony to his athletic vigor and pluck, "that
he was more afraid of meeting Wheelwright at football than he
had been since of meeting an army in the field, for he was infalli-
bly sure of being tripped up by him." Mr. Wheelwright was
married on the eighth of November, 1621, to Marie, daughter of
the Rev. Thomas Storre, vicar of Bilsb}^, in the county of Lincoln ;
and on the ninth of April, 1623, having taken hoi}" orders, on the
death of his father-in-law, succeeded him in the vicarage. He is
described as a faithful and zealous minister ; but like many able
and conscientious men of his time, he was led to question the au-
thority of certain dogmas and observances of the English church,
until he found himself at length arrayed in the ranks of the Puri-
tans, so that after about ten years he was silenced by the ecclesi-
astical powers, for non-conformity. He continued to reside in
England for two or three years afterwards and then emigrated to
the new world. He took with him his wife by a second marriage,
Mary, daughter of Edward Hutchinson of Alford, and his five
children, and landed in Boston on the twenty-sixth of May, 1636.

There he soon became highly esteemed, insomuch that after
about six months, it was proposed by some of the members of the
Boston church that he should be settled over them as a second
teacher, in conjunction with the Kev. John AVilsou and the Kev.

♦Of course this name was borrowed from Exeter in England. ,fhe cause of its se-
lection is unknown. There is no evidence tliat Wlieelwri^lit ever liad any acciuaiut-
ance with the Knj^lish Exeter, and the only one of his companions who is known to
have come from that place, or its vicinity, was Godfrey Dearborn.


.lolm Cotton, two of the most eniiiR'iit divines of the colony. But
nj>on some objection l)einii; made to this, IMr. Wheehvri2;ht was
phiccd in charjjje of a new church <rathercd at Blount Wollaston,
afterwards liraintree and now (^)iiincy; and received a grant of
two hundred acres of land there.

About this time Anne Hutchinson, a woman of keen wit and
dominant disposition, the wife of William Hutchinson, a brother
of "Wheelwrigiit's second wife, rendered lurself a conspicuous
iitrure in the religious circles of Boston. With the fondness for
theological speculations which was characteristic of that age, she
had adopted some opinions not iu unison with those of the major-
ity of the ministers and elders of the Massachusetts Bay, and was
in the habit of enunciating them in the shape of criticisms on their
sermons and doctrines, at weekly meetings of the sisterhood held
at her house iu P>oston. These heterodox oi)inious were the merest
theoretic abstractions imaginable, such as that ''the person of the
Holy Ghost dwells iu a justified person," and that " no sanctiflca-
tion can help to evidence to us our justification," and the like, and
had no possible relation to the practical concerns of life. Their
opponents, however, gave them the bad name of "Antinomian."
But Wheelwright also professed the same views in the main, and
Cotton timidly indorsed them, wliile a large proportion of the
members of the Boston church approved them. All this was bit-
terly unpalatable to the authorities of church and state (who were
substantially the same) in the Massachusetts Ba}', and the}' took
counsel together how to suppress the rising heresy. Excommuni-
cation of the offenders was the obvious reinedy ; but as by far the
greater part of the Boston church were iu sympathy with them,
there was danger that in the attempt to ai)j)ly that remedy the
movers might lind themselves victims instead of victors. They
therefore resolved on other and safer measures.

Apparently every utterance of AVheelwright was strictly
watched, to find cause of accusation against him. At lengtli the
desired pretext was obtained, in a sermon wliidi he preached on a
Fast day in Boston, on the nineteenth of -lanuary, ]G.'5(;-7. Jt is
impossible for any unprejudiced person of our time to discover in
this i»roduction, which is still extant, anything to cause alarm to
the most timorous heart, but to the jaundiced eyes of the Massa-
chusetts rulers of that day, it seemed to be filled with threateniugs
of ruin and destruction. Au'l they di-termined that out of his dis-
<'oin-sc they Avould liinl matter for his condemnation. It would


require too much space to follow in detail the various proceedings
which they instituted against AVheelwright. First, the great and
General Court, backed by an advisory counsel of the clergy, pro-
nounced him guilty of " sedition and contempt of the civil author-
ity." AVheelwright was not daunted by this. The next applica-
tion was a synod of the clergy of the colony, who, after a laborious
session of twenty-four days, condemned no less than eighty-two
erroneous opinions, which they alleged had been brought to New
England aud "• spread underhand there." Wheelwright attended
the meetings of the synod, and, of course, understood very well
that its conclusions were in effect, if not by name, a condemna-
tion of his position and course ; but he did not swerve a hair's
breadth for that. Then his prosecutors determined to oust him
by force. The General Court was to be the instrument ; and in
order to make sure of a majority of deputies who would perform
their behests, the authorities resoi'ted to the extraordinary course
of a special election. Before this tribunal, thus organized to con-
vict, Wheelwright appeared and pleaded not guilty. To such a
trial there could be but one ending. For the offences of which he
had previously been found guilty, " and for now justifying himself

Online LibraryCharles Henry BellHistory of the town of Exeter, New Hampshire → online text (page 1 of 51)