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

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them at the General Court. He was selectman of Dover seven
years, moderator of the town meeting in 1675, justice of the
peace, and deputy to the Provincial Assembly in i68.^, when
resistance was made to the oppression of Cranfield. Upon the
overthrow of Andres, a convention was called to form a govern-



ment, and Capt. John Woodman's name appears at the head of
the Dover delegation of six. This convention drew up a form of
government, one branch of which was to be a Council, and in
January 1690, Mr. Woodman was chosen a member of this Coun-
cil. He was again provincial deputy from 1692 to 1696, 1699,
1703, to the time of his death in 1706. He was also justice of
the peace and a justice of the Court of Common Pleas, 1 702-1 706.
He held a commission as captain prior to 1690, which was renewed
several times. His garrison was one of the most noted, resisting
all attacks and continuing till it was accidentally burned in 1896.
He was a wise and trusted leader in councils of war and of peace.
[See Genealogical Notes.]

Col. James Davis was born at the garrison house near the
mouth of Oyster River, 23 May 1662, and died at the same place
8 September 1749. His career was one of marked activity and
leadership and shows him to have been a man of superior abilities,
which were readily recognized by his fellows. His name gleams
brightly from the pages of colonial military history and appears
upon the records of New Hampshire as one of the most important
in the formative period of the state. He participated actively
in the affairs of town and colony. Before reaching the age of
twenty he had organized and led scouting parties against the
Indians for the defence of the colony and had received the rank
of lieutenant. This rank was recognized by the Massachusetts
government, 19 March 1689, and renewed by Governor Usher, 20
September 1692, extending through the period of King William's
War. He held the rank of captain during the period of
Queen Anne's War. In the spring of 1703 he was on a scouting
tour in the lake regions of New Hampshire, at the head of sixty
men, and in 1704 he took part in an expedition against the French
and Indians in Maine, for which he received a special award of
live pounds for honorable service. On the i8th of October 1707
he was appointed by the New Hampshire government a member
of the Council of War. In June 1709 he reported that one of
his scouting party (Stevenson) was killed. In 17 10 he had com-
mand of another scouting party of 1 10 men, when he was allowed
nine pounds for snowshoes and moccasins. In 1712 he led a party
of 370 men for five months. He was in one or more of the ex-
peditions against Port Royal. Before 1719 he was advanced to
the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and in 1720 was made colonel.


He was moderator of the Dover town meetings in 1702, 1713,
1715-17, 1720-21, 1 728-3 1, and moderator of tliefirsttown meeting
held in Durham, 1732, in which capacity he served at nine of
the following meetings. He served repeatedly as commissioner
of highways and assessor. He was one of the selectmen of Dover
in 1698 and 1700-01. He also was deputy to the General Court,
1697-1701, and 1715-27. He was justice of the peace and, 9
December 1717, was appointed judge of the Court of Common
Pleas, which office he held at the time of his death. On account
of disagreement with the Rev. Hugh Adams he and his wife
withdrew from the church at Oyster River and joined the church
at Dover, in 1723.

Col. Davis received large grants of land in Dover, Durham,
Madbury, Rochester, Barnstead, Canterbury and Bow. In
1694 he had a one-eighth share in the entire Lamprey River for
the purpose of erecting saw-mills. His lands and riches he dis-
tributed among his sons and daughter. [See his will and Genea-
logical Notes.] Altogether he was the most prominent man of
his time in Durham, and few were his equals in the Province of
New Hampshire. Strength, courage, conscientiousness, intelli-
gence, enterprise and an iron will mark his career.

Capt. Francis Mathes was the leading man at the "Point"
for many years. He served as selectman in Dover thirteen years
and four years in Durham. He was deputy, or representative,
1728-30 and 1731-32, and moderator in 1728. He was the town
clerk of Durham from its first meeting, 26 June 1732. until 29
March 1736. He is called "Sargent" in 1707, "Ensign" in 1714,
"Captain" in 1728. Frequent and honorable mention is made
of his services in the State and Provincial Papers. He was active
in religious affairs, promoting the building of a meeting house at
Durham Point, on his own land, and he sought to make the Point
District a separate parish, in 1739. He was one of the proprietors
of Rochester and was chosen chairmen of its first board of select-
men, in 1727. Some of the meetings of the proprietors were
held in Durham. [See Genealogical Notes for further particulars.]

Capt. Jonathan Thompson's name appears on the muster roll
of Capt. James Davis in 1712. He was selectman in Dover,
1729-30, and in Durham, 1732-4J and 1746. He acted as
moderator in 1733, 1737 and 1745. He was representative in
the General Court, 1741-44 and 1748-51, when he served on a


large number of committees. He was a deacon in the church
during the pastorate of the Rev. Hugh Adams but withdrew and
joined the church at Dover when the Rev. John Adams became
pastor. He died in 1757, aged about 64.

Col. Samuel Smith, son of Joseph, was born 16 June 1687,
and lived on the ancestral farm on the north side of Oyster River,
where he died 2 May 1760. He was selectman of Dover in 1727-
28 and 1731-32, and was chairman of the first board of selectmen
in Durham, 1732, being reelected in 1734, 1735, 1737 and from
1744 to 1752 inclusive. Five times he served as moderator of
town meetings. He was town clerk from 29 May 1736 until his
death. He was councilor from 13 January 1742 till 2 May 1760.
He also served as colonel in the militia.

Hon. John Smith, 3d, was born 24 December 1737, called
"Master" John Smith from the fact that he taught school. He
inherited the Smith homestead nearly opposite the Sullivan
monument, where later lived Maj. Seth H. Walker and, more
recently, John Drew. He died 24 May 1 791 . He was town clerk
1774-91, dying in office. He was selectman thirteen years,
beginning with 1766, and representative from 1776 till 1782.
He was a member of the town's Committee of Correspondence,
Inspection and Safety, 1774-79, delegate to the third congress
at Exeter, 1775, clerk of the House of Representatives, 1781-83,
member of the New Hampshire Committee of Safety, 1776-77
and 1781-84. He was justice of the peace after 1780 and regis-
trar of deeds for Strafford County, 1781-91. A petition that he
be appointed justice of the peace was signed by eighty-one of his
townsmen, stating that he was a "Gentleman who has not only
distinguished himself as a patriot but from his early youth by an
upright and irreproachable conduct gained the Esteem and Con-
fidence of all his fellow citizens who have had the pleasure of his
acquaintance." It adds, "The proficiency he has made in Litera-
ture is not equalled by many." [See N. H. Town Papers, XI,


Hon. George Frost, born at Newcastle 26 July 1720, was son

of Hon. John and Mary (Pepperrell) Frost. Upon the organiza-
tion of Strafford County, in 1773, he was appointed one of the
associate justices of the Court of Common Pleas and held that
office till 1791, for the last few years being chief justice. He was
delegate to the Continental Congress in 1777, 1778 and 1779,


councilor in New Hampshire, 1780-84, moderator of town meet-
ings seven times, selectman four times. He was delegate to the
fourth Prov^incial Congress convened at Exeter 17 May 1775.
He was also a member of the town's Committee of Correspondence
Inspection and Safety. He lived in the Smith garrison at
Lubberland, having married Margaret, widow of Dea. Ebenezer
Smith. [See Genealogical Notes.]

Judge Ebenezer Thompson was born in Durham 5 March
1737. He studied medicine but soon abandoned medical practice
for public duties. He was elected one of the selectmen at the
age of twenty-eight and held that office ten years, by annual
reelection. He also represented for ten }ears the town of Durham
in the General Assembly at Portsmouth, beginning this service
in 1766. He took an active part in the events that led up to
the American Revolution. He was among those who seized the
military stores at Fort William and Mary, 14 December 1774,
for which he was deprived of his commission as justice of the
peace. He was a member of all the Provincial Congresses that
met at Exeter and acted as clerk, and after the formation of a
state government he was the first secretary of State, reappointed
for eleven years in succession. He was also clerk of the senate
from 1776 to 1786. He was secretary of the State Committee of
Safety all through the Revolutionary- War and was also a member
of the Durham Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and
Safety. He was one of the committee to draw up a plan of govern-
ment for New Hampshire and to frame a constitution. He held
the office of councilor for five years. He was a commissioner to
meet delegates from other states at New Haven in 1778. He
was employed to settle the boundaries of several towns, being an
expert land surveyor and draughtsman. He drew the plans for
the church built at Durham in 1792. Twice he was appointed
to represent the State of New Hampshire in the Continental
Congress, but he declined these honors because of feeble health.
He was State senator, justice of the Inferior Court of Common
Pleas and in 1795 justice of the Superior Court of Judicature.
In 1796 he accepted the office of judge of the Court of Common
Pleas for Strafford County and held it till his death in 1802. In
the midst of all these cares of State he found time to serve his town
as clerk for eighteen years, selectman, assessor of taxes, commis-
sioner and auditor, besides being on most of the committees of



the parish and acting as one of the school committee. He was
often consulted for legal advice, though he never was admitted
to the bar. He was one of the presidential electors at the choice
of Washington and also of Adams. No native of Durham has
held so many public offices nor won more esteem from his fellow

Judge Valentine Smith

citizens. His record is one of honesty, patriotism, unusual ability
and usefulness.*

Judge Valentine Smith was born in Durham (Lubberland)
26 May 1774, son of Dea. John Smith, and died 2 March 1869.
He was town clerk twenty-eight years, from 1802 to 1819, and
from 1827 to 1838. Besides being teacher and surveyor he served

*Sea Memoir published by Miss Mary P. Tliompson.



as selectman eleven years and as representative six years. He was
justice of the Court of Common Pleas, 1819-21, chief justice of
Sessions, 1822-25, and was for fifty-six years a justice of the
peace. He was interested and helpful in the church, in education
and in tjie Durham Social Library, a highly useful citizen fJ*^

Hon. Stephen DeMeritt was born 19 December 1806, and died
27 January 1867. He took an active part in town affairs and

Hon. Stephen DeMeritt

was often employed in the settlement of estates, being named
in 1856 as one of tiie executors of Benjamin Thompson's will.
He died, however, before Mr. Thompson. He served as
moderator in town meetings seven times, and selectman in
1836, 1837, 1841, 1843, 1844, and 1850. He represented the
town in the legislature in 1837, 1838, and 1844, once being
unanimously elected, and was State senator in 1845. He is


remembered as honest, able and popular, a strong friend of the
temperance cause and a man whose influence was for the good
of the town. [See Genealogical Notes.]

Prof. John Smith Woodman was born 6 September 1819, and
died 9 May 1871. He fitted for college at South Berwick Academy
and was graduated at Dartmouth in 1842, after which he studied
law with John A, Richardson, Esq., and with Hon. Daniel
M. Christie. Meanwhile, he taught four years in Charleston,
S. C, and went abroad, traveling for more than a year in France,
Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy, publishing his Obser-
vations in the New Hampshire Patriot and the Charleston News.
He made a special study of art and agriculture. He was ad-
mitted to the bar in 1848 and opened an office at Salmon Falls.
In 1850 he was appointed commissioner of schools for Strafford
County. In January 1851 he was chosen professor of mathe-
matics in Dartmouth College and in 1857 was made professor of
civil engineering, to have general charge of the Chandler Scien-
tific Department of Dartmouth College.

Meanwhile he had served as commissioner of schools for
Grafton County with remarkable success. After twenty years
of service in the Scientific Department of Dartmouth he retired
because of ill health and went to Florida for a short time. He
returned to Durham and to the old Woodman homestead to end
his days and was buried in the Woodman cemetery. He was
probably the most prominent and successful educator that Dur-
ham has produced. His property, amounting to some $20,000,
was bequeathed to the institution he had served so long and well.

Benjamin Thompson was born at Durham 22 April 1806,
and died there 30 January 1890. He was never married. His
father was Benjamin, and his grandfather was Judge Ebenezer
Thompson, mentioned heretofore. He inherited, among other
property, his father's residence in Durham village, with neigh-
boring lands, and the so-called "Warner farm," originally a part
of the 500 acres granted to Valentine Hill. By strict economy
and good management in the course of half a century he in-
creased his property tp over $400,000. He taught school two
terms in his youth. No public office was held by him save that
of auditor one year. He was never strong physically. Nearly all
his property was willed to the State of New Hampshire in trust,
"The object of this devise being to promote the cause of agri-



culture by establishing ... an agricultural school to be
located on my Warner farm, so called, and situated in said Dur-
ham, wherein shall be thoroughly taught, both in the school-room
and in the field, the theory and practice of that most useful and
honorable calling." The real estate so bequeathed was valued


at $17,100, and the Benjamin Thompson Trust Fund amounted
to $363, 823. Thus he very wisely chose to perpetuate his
memory by honoring his natixc town and conferring blessings
upon untold generations.

Hamilton Augustus Mathes was born i() Jul>- 1843, son of
John and Pamela (Mathes) Mathes, and died 2 December 1891.



He was educated at Colby Academy, New London. He filled
various offices in the town of Durham, being moderator of town
meetings seven times, selectman in 1871-72, supervisor 1878-82,
and treasurer, 1872, 1885 to 1890. He was one of the prime
movers in establishing the Durham Social Library and was its
president till his death, in ten years having missed only one
meeting of the board. He began to manufacture brick at the

Hamilton A. Mathes

age of twenty-one and the last year of his life he sold 8,000,000
of bricks. He was president of the Pascataqua Navigation Com-
pany, which he helped to organize. He lived at Durham Point
till about 1883, when he removed to the village. He employed
about 200 men in his five brickyards. He was actively interested
in the work of the Grange and was an influential member of the
Congregational Society.


Miss Mary Pickering Thompson was born in Durliam 19
November 1825, and died tiiere 6 June 1894, daughter of
Ebenezer and Jane (Demeritt) Thompson, great-grand-daughter
of Judge Ebenezer Thompson. After studying at Derry and
Durham Academies, where she took first rank, she attended
Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, where she graduated with
honor in 1845. A little later she took post-graduate studies at
the same institution, then under charge of that famous educator,
Mary Lyon. She taught at Oakland Female Seminary, Hills-
borough, Ohio, and at Aberdeen, Ohio. Here, in 1847, she asked

Miss Mary Pickering Thompson

for a letter from the Congregational Church in Durham to the
Presbyterian Church in Maysviile, Ky.. just across the ri\er
from Aberdeen. Her request was refused on the ground that
"Maysviile is in a slave state, and the Presbyterian church
there probably has members who are slave holders." This
refusal led her to study into ecclesiastical questions, and the
result was that she united with the Roman Catholic Church
and, 31 August 1847, she entered the Notre Dame Convent
at Cincinnati, Ohio. She taught for a while in the I'rsuline
Convent at Galveston, Tex., and she was one year, as vice-


president, at St. Mary's Female Seminary, Md. During the
years 1854-56 and again in 1873-77 she traveled in France,
Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, and
Holland. The rest of the time during this period and there-
after she spent in literary work at the house which she purchased
in Durham village, and in such work, which was her delight, she
excelled in quantity and quality. She contributed one hundred
and thirty-five articles to the Catholic World, historical, biograph-
ical, descriptive and religious, besides many newspaper contri-
butions. She was specially interested in everything that pertained
to her native town and to ancient Dover, and she devoted years
to research work among the New Hampshire Province Deeds,
Probate Records, and Court Records, original and copious sources
of historical information. The records of Durham and Dover
were minutely examined by her. Wherever she looked scarcely
anything seems to have escaped her notice. The new things of
this history of Durham have been derived from sources printed
or indexed since her death or from examination of places which
she could not visit. She gathered up a great amount of inter-
esting and valuable folk-lore and interwove it with the facts of
history, so as to make everything she wrote interesting as a novel.
The beauty of her style arises from the fact that she knew so
much to say and the study of several languages enabled her to
choose the appropriate word, while her knowledge of general
literature is attested by constant allusions to standard prose and
poetical works. Her Landmarks in Ancient Dover is a compen-
dium of refined knowledge, indispensable to the historian and full
of interest to the general reader. It was completed in the midst
of physical pain, yet the whole work is joyous. Her Memoir of
Judge Ebenezer Thompson shows a proper family pride and is a
loving tribute to the memory of a distinguished ancestor. Dur-
ham has produced many honorable and able men and women,
but no one of them has done more for the town and merits more
gratitude and praise than Mary Pickering Thompson. I know
her only in the spirit, and I wish, with many others, that she could
have lived to write this history of Durham, as was her desire
and intention. Certainly she has contributed more than any
other to make it as full and accurate as it is. Durham owes to
her some permanent memorial.

Dea. John Emerson Thompson, born 25 September 181 5, was



the son of Dea. John Thompson and the great-great-grandson
of Dea. Jonathan Thompson. Thus this family has rendered
distinguished service to the church. He served as deacon from
the year 1870 till his death, 10 January 1892. His father held
that ofifice forty years. The latter was a master carpenter and
built three meeting houses, one of them being the church erected
in Durham in 1792. His ancestor, the first John Thompson of

Deacon John Thompson

Durham, built the historic meeting house on (ho same spot,
about 1712.

Dea. John E. Thompson had a ready and tenacious memory
and was fond of relating stories of old times and people. He
lived about a mile from the village, near to the Jabez Davis
garrison. He is remembered as a staunch supporter of the church
and a useful and honored citizen. He held the office of select-
man in 1862. The most of the old shade trees in Durham



Village, especially along the street next the New Hampshire
College land, were grown and set out by him and are a good
memorial. For family see Genealogical Notes.

Dea. Albert Young was born in Durham 3 February 1837,
and died 21 September 1910. He was son of Daniel and Hannah
(Chesley) Young. His father was a soldier in the War of 18 12

Deacon John Emerson Thompson

and afterward kept the toll-gate on the New Hampshire Turn-
pike, where Edward A. Marston now resides, and had a tan yard
on the Fowler land easterly. Dea. Young was educated in
Durham and Strafford Academies. He was an incorporator of
the Christian Society in Durham and for many years was an
active leader in that denomination. After services ceased in



the brick church he united with the Congregational church and
was made a deacon therein in 1894, which office he held until ill
health compelled him to resign. He managed a shoe shop and
a good farm, the old estate of maternal ancestry. He served as
selectman. He was also an Odd Fellow and a charter member of
Scammell Grange. For years he was president of the George

Deacon Albert Vuung

Ffrost Temperance Societ>-. His memory was remarkable and
he could tell much about the old residents and houses of Durham.
He was a man of deep and staunch moral convictions, unselfish
and devoted especially to home life. Patient and uncomplain-
ing through years of ill health, he left behind the memory of an
upright citizen and loyal friend. He left one daughter, Mary E.,



born 4 August 1869, who married 24 April 1893, Charles A. Smart,
and has a son, Albert Monroe Smart, born 5 December 1907.

Thomas H. Wiswall was born in Exeter 28 January 181 7, son of
Thomas and Sarah (Trowbridge) Wiswall. He was educated in
Exeter schools and Wakefield Academy and began apprenticeship
at the age of sixteen in his father's paper-mill at Exeter. He
left Exeter in 1846 and for five years had charge of a paper-mill

Thomas H. Wiswall

at Dover, after which he was employed two years in the Russell
paper-mill at Exeter. In 1853 Mr. Wiswall removed to Durham
and in partnership with Isaac Flagg, Jr., the son of his father's
partner, purchased a saw-milfon the Lamprey River, in that part
of Durham known as Packer's Falls.

Here may be the proper place to say a few words respecting
the industries of this region. In 1835 the original dam and a



saw-mill were built by Moses Wiggin, and another building was
added for a grist and flour mill, both two-story buildings. In
the second story of the saw-mill gingham cloth and blankets were
manufactured by a Mr. Talbot. Other articles manufactured in
these mills were shoe knives, hoes, pitch forks, wooden measures,
nuts, bolts, bobbins, ax handles, hubs, carriages, sleighs, chairs,
matches, and spokes, by various persons. In 1854 Moses Wiggin
built a canal and purchased the old Brooks machine shop which
formerly stood where Elmer Kent's stable is now, opposite Lang's
blacksmith shop in Newmarket. This building was removed to
Wiggin's Falls, then so called, and was the original paper-mill,

Wiswall's Paper Mill

a building 34 by 80 feet. It was leased the same year, with water
power, to Messrs. Wiswall and Flagg. After three months Mr.
Flagg sold his interest to Howard Moses, and he soon sold out
to his father, C. C. P. Moses, and the business continued under
the name of T. H. Wiswall & Co., until the death of Mr. Moses
in August 1883. Previous to this Mr. Wiswall had acquired full
ownership of all the mills, and gradually all other manufactures
ceased, and paper became the sole product. Additions to the
mill were made, including an L, 15 by 20 feet, and a stock house
was built, 30 by 50 feet. In 1868 a completely new dam was built.
Houses were erected for the workmen, and a store was kept by


Austin Doeg. This continued to be the busiest spot in town
till I November 1883, when the paper-mill and all adjoining build-
ings w^ere totally destroyed by fire. Only the dam and saw-mill
were kept in use till the spring of 1896, when a freshet swept a

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 25 of 34)