Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole.

History of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes online

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Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 22 of 34)
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to the town for a like purpose.


The first African slaves in America were brought by Dutch
ships in 1619 and sold to Virginian planters. At that time
slavery was quite common in old England, and the American
colonies followed the old custom. No law was necessary to
legalize the traffic in slaves nor the custom of holding them.
Slavery had been a concomitant of war from time immemorial.
Hence Indians taken in war were held as slaves and sold into
slavery. A large number of those captured in the sham fight
at Dover, managed by Maj. William Waldron and Maj. Charles
Frost, were sold as slaves in the West Indies.

Slavery was not profitable in the northern states, and most of
the slaves were house servants. In 1767 there were in Ports-
mouth one hundred and twenty-four male and sixty-three female
slaves, probably more than in any other part of New Hampshire.
As early as 1649 William Hilton sold to George Carr an Indian
slave named James, and the bill of sale is on record. In 1767
there were 633 slaves in New Hampshire and in 1775 there
were 657. The Revolution virtually put an end to slavery in
the North. In 1790 the census shows only 158 in New Hamp-
shire, and these were old servants held and maintained out of
kindness, for in 1800 the census shows only eight in New Hamp-
shire. In 1840 one is reported. Durham reported only three
slaves in 1790, belonging to Samuel Burnham, Timothy Emerson
and Stephen Jones. Lee and Madbury did not report any
slaves, though there were free colored persons living there. No
emancipation law was ever passed by New Hampshire, though
an act in 1789 seems to show the intention of legislators to regard
slavery as a dead letter. "

Among the earliest slave owners at Oyster River was William
Drew, in the administration of whose estate, 1669, mention is
made of a man servant and a maid servant. The will of Nicholas
Follett, 1700, mentions "my Negroe Man Caezer."

The Re\^ Hugh Adams records among his baptisms the fol-
lowing, 17 December 17 19: "At a lecture at Loverland, on
account of her faith and engagement for its education, our
sister Sarah Bennick, having an infant maid servant born in



her house of a Negro father and Indian mother, had her baptized
Mary Robinson." And again, 5 January 1723/4, he records,
"Then at our house, Simon Teko, Indian man servant, owning
his Baptismal Covenant, I baptized our Indian woman servant
Maria, and their Infant born in our house, Scipio," and June 23
1728, "Philhs, our servant child, born in my house of Maria,
•our Indian Woman Servant." He baptized, 30 August 1724,
"Peter, the Negro servant of Peter and Sarah Mason" and 5
March 1726/7, "Caesar Sanders, Free Negro."

The inventory of the estate of the Rev. Nicholas Oilman,
1748, names Peter, a negro man, valued at £150.

The Rev. John Adams recorded the marriage of Belmont
and Venus, i January 1760. Their surname was Barhew and
they are said to have been brought from Africa and belonged
to Jeremiah Burnham. The Rev. Curtis Coe recorded the
burial of Venus, November 1783. The Barhew family lived
on a part of the Burnham farm called Nigger Point. They had
seven children, Aenon, Caesar, Jubal, Titus, Peter, Candace, and
another daughter. Aenon, when only four years old, was
bought for $100 by Col. Timothy Emerson, brother of Mrs.
Jeremiah Burnham, and became free after the Revolution. He
died 16 December 1827 and was buried, with other slaves owned
by the Emerson family, near the residence of Dea. Winthrop
S. Meserve. Caesar was noted for his singing at prayer meet-
ings. He was acquired by Vowel Leathers, and died in New-
market after having obtained his freedom. [See Landmarks of
Ancient Dover, p. 162.]

The following bill of sale may be of interest and further follows
the fortunes of the Barhew family:

Know all men by these presents that I Jeremish Burnum Junr of Durham
in the County of Strafford and State of New Hampshire, yeoman, for and in
Consideration of the sum of thirty pounds rightful money to me in hand
before the delivery hereof well and truly paid by my daughter Elizabeth
Burnam of said Town, single woman and Spinster, the receipt whereof I
do hereby acknowledge, have given, granted, bargained and sold and by these
presents do give, grant, bargain and sell unto my said Daughter Elizabeth,
my Negro boy named Jabal now about Seven Years old.

To have and to hold the said Negro to her the s^ Elizabeth, her heirs or
assigns, to her or their only proper use and benefit during the term of his


natural life. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this
29th day of June A.D. 1778.

Jeremiah Burnum JuN'.
Signed, Sealed & del"*

in presence of
John Smith
James Smith.

Jabal or Jubal was afterward acquired by Capt. Smith Emer-
son. Candace, his sister, was given to Ehzabeth Burnham at
the time of her marriage, and Peter, the youngest, remained
with the Burnham family. His sleeping place, called Pete's
hole, could be seen in the ruins of the old Burnham mansion.

Robert Thompson was the owner of several slaves, three of
whom are mentioned in the settlement of his estate, 1752, viz.,
John Battles valued at £350, Page £120, and Nan £350. The
wife of Robert Thompson in her will gave to her brother, Solo-
mon Emerson, her negro woman, Dinah.

A negro servant of Solomon Emerson, named George, about
to go to war, made his will, 5 June 1777, giving property to wife,
Phillis. A negro slave named Sidon is mentioned in the inven-
tory of Samuel Thompson, 1755.

The inventory of the estate of Capt. Samuel Emerson, 1743,
shows the appraisal of one man negro at £55, one woman negro
at £80 and one young man negro at £130.

The inventory of Capt. Samuel Demeritt, 1770, shows that
he owned a negro named Prince.

A negro man, Peter, belonging to Hon. George Frost was
buried 16 July 1785, according to record of the Rev. Curtis Coe.

Judge Valentine Smith used to mention a female slave named
Phillis, who took excellent care of his mother, Lydia Millett
Smith, in her sickness. The slave was buried in the family
burial grounds at Lubberlatid.

Col. Thomas Tash had a slave named Oxford Tash, who
died 14 October 18 10, aged sixty. He fought in the Revo-
lutionary War and was wounded in action. He refused a pension
so long as he could support himself.

A slave of Capt. Nathaniel Randall served in Capt. Thomas
Tash's company in 1758. His name is enrolled as "Cesar
Durham, negro, by the consent of his master Nathaniel Randal,
enlisted April 29, 1758, age 45." Another negro served in the


same company and is enrolled as "Sippo Negro Servant to-
Doctor Joseph Atkinson, enlisted April 8, 1758, age 26."

Peter Adams, negro, served in the Revolution, 1777, from
Durham, perhaps slave or servant of the Rev. John Adams,,
perhaps belonging to Lieut. -Col. Winborn Adams.

Robert Lapish of Durham, in 1777, bought of Jacob Sheafe
of Portsmouth a negro slave named Joseph, aged about 37 years.

Gen. John Sullivan had his slaves and special quarters for
them erected in the rear of his house. They often rowed him
down the river thirteen miles to Portsmouth. One was named

The following exact copy of a liberation paper will be of interest:

Know all men by these presents that I, John Woodman, of Durham in
the county of Strafford and State of New Hampshire, yeoman, for and in
consideration of the sum of sixty pounds lawful money to me in hand paid
before the deliver}' hereof by my negro man Dan, a servant for life, about
twenty-eight years of age, the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, have
given, granted, bargained & sold & by these presents do give, grant, bargain
and sell unto the aforesaid Dan his time for life, liberating & making him a
free man to all intents as tho' he had been born free, hereby engaging for
myself, my heirs, exec" & admin" that no person or persons claiming from,,
by or under me or them shall have any right to demand any service of him
in future as a slave.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 23d day of
June Anno Domini 1777.
Signed Sealed & delivered John Woodman.

in presence of
John Smith
JoN«. Chesley.

This slave took the name Dan Martin and served as a soldier
in the Revolution. According to the records of Durham Dan
Martin, "late a soldier for Durham," received £17. He and
his family used to live on the landing, near the wharves, near
the Gleason house. He used to work upon the boats that carried
freight to Portsmouth. He died at Greenland June 1839. His
wife died 2 March 1830. He was sometimes called Dan Wood-
man, and he named a son Archelaus, for the brother of his former
master. They were buried in the Chesley-Young burial lot.

"Duke Smith" and "Black Pegg" were among the paupers
bid off to those who would board them for the least money,
1783-86. The price varied from three to four shillings per week.
In 1786 the town was charged "for a Sheet and Shift to bury


Black Pegg in." She had been kept by Robert Wille, and Duke
Smith hved with Moses Edgerly at the expense of the town.

The records of Durham show that Portsmouth or Porch
was the negro dog-whipper in the meeting house, in 1751, 1754
and 1755. The dog-whipper w'as once a well-known official
in England. In many cases he was the sexton. Perhaps they
remembered the saying of the revelator, "Without are dogs."

During the Revolution, 1779, twenty slaves of New Hamp-
shire petitioned the Honorable Council and House of Repre-
sentatives for their freedom. Among them was Peter Frost,
slave of the Hon. George Frost of Durham. They express the
desire "that the name of Slave may not more be heard in a Land
gloriously contending for the Sweets of Freedom." No action
was taken on this petition, "postponed to a more convenient
opportunity." Nero Brewster headed the petition, called King
Brewster, slave of Col. William Brewster of Portsmouth.

The census returns for 1767 show that Durham then had
twenty-one male slaves and eleven female slaves; in 1773 there
were fifteen male slaves ahd nine female; in 1775 Durham had
twenty-five slaves for life; in 1786 there w^ere only three in Dur-
ham and nine in all Strafford County.

Agitation for the abolition of slavery began in New Hamp-
shire soon after 1830, amid much opposition. A Strafford
County Anti-Slavery Convention was held at Gilmanton Center,
27 April 1836. Among those who signed the call were the fol-
lowing from Durham, John A. Richardson, Joseph Coe, G. W.
Thompson, Richard Steele and John I. Kelly. An anti-slavery
address was given at Durham 17 November 1836 by the Rev.
David Root of Dover, on Thanksgiving evening, and at the
close of the address an Anti-Slavery Society was formed, con-
sisting of sixty-three members. The officers of the society were
Dea. Abraham Perkins, president; Dea. Daniel Mathes, vice-
president, and Richard Steele, Esq., secretary.

The great change in public opinion that had gradually come
about in Durham, on the subject of slavery, is well illustrated
in the following letter addressed to Miss Mary P. Thompson
by the Rev. Alvan Tobey, on the occasion of her request for a
church letter to join a Presbyterian church at Maysville, Ky.
The letter is dated 4 May 1847:


Your request for a dismission from the Congregational church in this place
and a recommendation to the Presbyterian church in Maysville, Ky., was
laid before the church last Sabbath, and the matter was referred to a commit-
tee consisting of the pastor and deacons, on the ground that the circum-
stances are somewhat peculiar. The peculiarity of the circumstances does
not relate to you personally, but to the fact that Maysville is in a slave state,
& the Presbyterian church there probably has members who are slave-holders.
It is the first instance in which a direct act of fellowship with a church in a
slave-holding state has come before us. It is important that we should decide
upon the right action in this case, as it may be a precedent in time to come,
and our whole course should be regulated by correct principles. Probably
a majority of this church would not consider the fact of another church having
some members who are slaveholders a reason for withholding from it all
fellowship. But if a church and its pastor should defend slavery as right,
as a good institution, and its members should hold slaves & manage them
for purposes of gain, like any other property, it is hardly probable that we
should think it right to have fellowship with them. In this case it seems to
us desirable to have more information before we act.

We should be glad to know whether there are slaveholders in the Presby-
terian church in Maysville? if there are, on what ground they are considered
justifiable in continuing the relation of master and slave? And whether
slavery is approved and cherished by the church as a good thing? Or is it
lamented and its removal sincerely desired?

Perhaps, — probably, I think, it would have been granted, if all the church
had the same views on the subject that I have. But such is not the case.
A few years ago the subject of slavery & abolition was discussed in the church
& created such a difference of opinion & feeling as threatened to produce
serious difficulty. The alienation caused by it then has apparently been
healed, & none of us, I believe, wish to have it come back again. We wish
& we mean, I think, to act together if we can, but we all are strongly opposed
to slavery and ready to express our disapprobation of it and our desire for
its removal, if we can in any way that is proper & promises to do good. In
my own opinion slavery should not be a bar to christian fellowship.

I believe there are Christian slaveholders & that for us to separate from
them is neither wise nor right. It is not the way most likely to promote
the abolition of slavery & it rejects those whom, not withstanding their imper-
fections, I believe God accepts.

The church at Durham decided not to grant the desired letter,
after learning that there were slaveholders in the church at
Maysville. Had all northern advisers been as wise and consider-
ate as the Rev. Mr. Tobey, perhaps much trouble might have
been avoided. Who can say? Both North and South now
rejoice that slavery is no more forever in this "land of the free."

The will of Margaret Blydenburgh of Durham was signed
30 May 1849 and approved the first Tuesday in January 1862.
In it a bequest is made to "William Lloyd Garrison, the editor


of the newspaper called the Liberator, . . . through my
regard to his devotedness and valuable services to the cause of
truth, religion and liberty." The sum was $1,000. Also she
gave the residue of her estate to him, to Wendell Phillips, to
Parker Pillsbury and to Frederick Douglass, the well-known
advocates of anti-slavery principles, as a trust fund for the
benefit of the fugitive slaves who may be in the free states.


The first record of any public school in Dov^er is dated 5 April
1658, when it was voted that twenty pounds be appropriated for
the maintenance of a schoolmaster for all the children. He was
to teach reading, writing, casting accounts and Latin. Charles
Buckner was then employed. Probably private schools had
existed before this date. Massachusetts, about 1647, required
that towns of fifty householders should have a school.

The early ministers, like Daniel Maud, were teachers of schools
as well as preachers of the Gospel. Sometimes they were physi-
cians also and they did much law business. Ministers and school-
masters were exempted from Province rates as early as 1692, and
also from military duty.

A petition, dated 17 15, shows that the people at the Point
were accustomed "to hire a Schoolmaster for themselves and
adjacent neighbors." They objected to having one school-
master for the whole town, as the school, in that case, would be
too far distant for their benefit. When Oyster River became a
parish, in 1716, the people were permitted and required to have
a schoolmaster. Dover petitioned, in 1722, to be released from
the obligation to have a grammar school during the Indian War.

The first reference to schools after the incorporation of Dur-
ham as a town is found under date of 8 October 1736, in a pre-
amble to a call for a town meeting, signed by the selectmen,
"And itt is the Desire of our Reverant pasture Mr. Hugh Adams
that y*^ town should vote that he should have the one half of his
salary paid him on or before the first week in October annually
from time to time and whereas his son Winbon Adams was the
schoolmaster of this Town for the present year and Deceast in
that ofice in the Town service to see if the Town will vote that
sum certain Part of his funeral charge be Paid out of the town
stock." Winborn Adams was born in Boston and at the time
of his decease was 21 years of age.

The earliest schoolmasters in Durham were Hercules Mooney,

1751-66, and John Smith, who is first mentioned in this office in

1757. Both of these were noted in their profession. Dr. Joseph

Atkinson taught in 1758, and Dr. Samuel Shepard in 1759, 1762

17 257




and 1764. Dea. Nathaniel Norton was a teacher in 1767, and
William Parsons taught in that and the following year. John
Marshall is mentioned a|S a teacher in 1772. Up to 1754 there
seems to have been but one public school. In 1764 it was voted
that the school money be divided. In 1768 the town voted to
keep a grammar school. In 1769 six districts and committees
were voted, and forty pounds were raised for the support of
schools. After the close of the Revolutionary War seventy-five
pounds were voted to maintain schools.

In the town warrant, dated 8 April 1794, was an article as
follows, "to see if the town will vote to build a house for the
purpose of holding town meetings in the future or vote a certain
sum to be laid out in conjunction with subscribers who propose
to build a house for an academy and to have both under one roof. "
The proposal was defeated. The next year the town voted
"that money should be raised sufficient to build a school house in
each district in the town." At a subsequent meeting the same
year this vote was reconsidered. In 1797 a committee of eight
was appointed to locate and build schoolhouses in the several
districts. The town warrant, dated 26 March 1798, called the
meeting "at the schoolhouse lately erected near the Widow
Griffin's in said Durham." Miss Mary P. Thompson attended
school there when she was but three years and a half old. She
writes, "The old wooden school-house, where I first went to
school in my childhood stood between the Griffin house (now
Buzzell's) and the present house of Samuel Runlett, opposite
the Richardson house."

The Durham school districts are mentioned in the records of
1794 as I, Falls, First North District, i. e., in Durham village; 2,
Falls, Second North District, i. e., the district around Buck's Hill;
3, Falls, South District, now the Broth Hill District; 4, Lubber-
land; 5, Point District; 6, Packer's Falls; 7, District below
Jones' Creek; afterward called the Bridge District; 8, District
above William Spinney's. The last was called the Mast Road
District in 1797.

In accordance with a law passed in 1805, providing for the
separation of towns into districts for school purposes, Durham
was divided into ten school districts and until 1885 the duty of
providing teachers was taken from the selectman and imposed
upon a prudential committee of theseveral districts. In Durham,


during this period, a superintending school committee, consisting
of from one to three persons, was annually chosen to supervise
the schools, often the pastor of one of the churches filling this
office for a very small remuneration.

Benjamin Thompson, who founded the college, taught school
three months in 1825 for $12 per month in District Number
Two and $14 per month in District Number Four, as receipts
show. During this time he was informed by a note as follows:

Mr. Thompson:

Sir — I would inform you that Ivory has Come home with a peace pinched
out of his Check he says by James Langley Between Schools, you will En-
quire into it. From yours &c. Wear Colcord.

Mr. Thompson preserved a list of fifty-seven boys and forty-
three girls who were his pupils in the two districts. The list,
alphabetically arranged, is as follows: Boys — John Burnham,
Joseph Burnham, Langdon Burnham, Moses Burnham, William
Chesley, Ivory Colcord, William Colcord, Caleb Davis, Enoch
Davis, George Davis, Charles FoUett, Richard Follett, John
Farnham, Daniel Holt, Henry Holt, Stephen Holt, Joseph Hoit,
Robinson Jones, John Keniston, Nathan Keniston, Andrew
Langley, Oilman Langley, James Langley, John Langley,
Thomas Langley, Alfred Langley, Moses Langley, John Langley
and James Langley again, David Laken, Ezekiel Leathers,
Stephen Nudd, Alfred Paul, Howard Paul, James Paul, Stephen
Paul, Frederic Parks, Timothy Parks, Charles Parks, Alfred
Pinkham, Daniel Pinkham, Stephen Pinkham, William Pink-
ham, James Presson, William Shackford, Mark W. Walker, James
Wiggin, George Wiggin, John Wiggin, William Wiggin, Jacob
Willey, Henry W'illey, Ira Willey, James Willey, Ira Tego and
John Tego.

The girls were Caroline Burnham, Eliza Burnham, Hannah
Burnham, Hannah Burnham again, Jane Cox, Jane Davis, Mary
Davis, Sarah Ann Colcord, Temperance Ann Edgerly, Susan
Farnham, Abigail Farnham, Caroline Follett, Elizabeth Holt,
Elizabeth Hussey, Caroline Jenkens, Mary Keniston, Lucia Ann
Keniston, Abigail Langley, Abigail Langley again, Abigail Lang-
ley, 3d, Martha Langley, Mary Ann Langley, Sophronia Langley,
Sarah Langley, Deborah Langley, Caroline Mathes, Jane Nudd,
Caroline Paul, Mary Paul, Susan Paul, Temperance Ann Paul,
Jane Parks, Sarah Ann Parks, Eliza Pinkham, Caroline Pinkham,


Sally Pinkham, Fanny Pinkham, Maria Tego, Harriet Willey,
Mehitable Willey, Susannah Willey, Mary Willey, Lydia Wiggin.

George Frost was a teacher near the close of the eighteenth
century, and one of his pupils was Judge Valentine Smith. The
school was in one of the chambers of the Smith homestead at
Lubberland. Judge Smith himself taught at Lubberland.

Among the teachers in the village, in the thirties, were Samuel
Burnham, Sarah Odell, Hannah Ela, Edmund J. Lane, Susan R.
Wilson, George P. Edney, Timothy Hilliard.

Stephen Mitchell taught in 1802; Edward Wells in 1802, 1804,
1805 and 1808; Charles Hardy in 1807.

There was a petition for "a woman school," for the benefit of
small children, in 1804. Mrs. Mary Hardy, widow of Theo-
philus Hardy, and sister of Gen. John Sullivan, was teaching in
181 2. She rented the front room in the old schoolhouse between
the Runlett and the Griffin houses, and this was called the "girls'
room. " Here she lived, cooked in the open fireplace, and taught.

Sarah S. Blunt taught in 1835; Abigail H. Folsom in 1838;
Preston Rand, Jr., and John S. Woodman in 1839; and Hiram
Kelsey in 1840. Other natixes of Durham who have become
noted as teachers are Edward Lancaster, Edwin DeMeritt, Prof.
B. F. Dame, John S. Hayes of Somerville, Mass., George W.
Ransom, and Calvert King Mellen.

In the >ear 1846 the amount raised for schools was $546,
divided among the ten districts of the town. About fifteen years
later and until the time the district system was abolished the
amount so expended annually varied from $1,200 to $1,500. In
1902-03 the amount expended in three schools, with five teachers,
was $2,835.

In 1859-60 the number of pupils enrolled was 292; in 1884-85
the number was 148. The length of the school year in 1857 and
in 1884 varied in the different districts from fifteen to thirty-two
weeks. Now there are four schoolhouses and thirty-six weeks
of school. The equipment is excellent, and there is state aid in
supervision of the schools.

We have seen that Durham academy was talked of in Durham
as early as 1794. It was not till 1839 that the New Hampshire
Christian Baptist Conference decided to establish "an Academy
where the youth both male and female may be taught the various
branches of education free from the leaven of sectarianism."


They further stated that "their wish and intention is to establish
an Academy of a strictly literary character, without any reference
to the profession the students may be disposed to choose after-

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 22 of 34)