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 26 of 34)
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portion of the dam away. November 25, 1899, the privilege was
sold to James W. Burnham, president of the Newmarket Electric
Light, Heat and Power Company, and an electric power station
was built at once, Durham seeing its first electric light, 20
February 1900, in the houses of James W. Burnham, Mrs. Sarah
J. Woodman (the Highland House), and the Griffiths brothers.
The plant has been owned, since 7 April 191 2, by the New-
market Electric Light Company, and a concrete dam and head
gates have been built.

Mr. Wiswall married, 22 June 1841, Miss Hannah Thing of
Bfentwood. He was a deacon in the Congregational church at
Newmarket, director of the Newmarket Bank and representative
from Durham in 1872 and 1873. He retired from active business
in 1883, and died 7 March 1906.1

Hamilton Smith, although born in Louisville, Ky., 5 July 1840,
regarded Durham as his own home as well as the home of a long
line of ancestors. Here he built his summer residence and here
he died, 4 July 1900, while on a sail down Oyster River. He
became an expert mining engineer. His office was for years in
London and later in New York. He was interested in mines in
South America, Alaska and South Africa, as well as in the United
States. He published a book on hydraulics, a treatise on "The
Cost of Mining and Milling Free Gold Ores," and papers writ-
ten at different times on "The Flow of Water through Pipes,"
"Water Power at High Pressure," and "The Temperature of
Water at Various Depths." An obituary notice spoke of him
as "one of the world's great mining experts." He gave $10,000
for the Valentine Smith Schplarships in New Hampshire College,
and his widow gave as much more for the dormitory for young
ladies, called Smith Hall. Both were very fond of Durham,
and their beautiful private grounds were open to all. Mrs.
Alice Smith survived her husband and died in Washington, D. C,
15 March 1906. Both were buried in a chapel built on their
Durham estate. They were highly esteemed by the people of

>The material for the above sketch was kindly furnished by Col. Arioch W. Griffiths.



Durham and will long be remembered for their kindness and

Ebenezer Thompson was born in Durham 15 August 1821,
and died 15 May 1869. He was a man of keen, active mind
and intelligent tastes. He was educated in the academies of
New London, South Berwick and Andover. He was specially

Hamilton Smith

familiar with the early history of the New England colonies and
began to collect materials for the history of Durham. For a
time he was with his grandfather, Benjamin Thompson, mer-
chant, and Gov. Ichabod Goodwin, Portsmouth. In the early
days of the Boston «& Maine Railroad he was station agent at
South Berwick Junction, and later he was wood agent of the



New York and Erie Railroad, living some years at Dunkirk,
N. Y. He returned home in 1854 and the following spring was
elected chairman of the board of selectmen and the same year was
appointed justice of the peace. He took a strong interest in
politics, held several town offices and was a county commissioner.
He was greatly interested in the public schools of the town and
was so efficient a superintendent that he received a vote of thanks

Ebenezer Thompson

at the annual town meeting in 1861 "for his assiduity and interest
taken and zeal manifested in the cause of common schools in
this town," — one of the few votes of similar nature in the records
of the town. In his section of countr>^ he was the pioneer in
growing the Baldwin apple, in which he was very successful.
He was also engaged in lumber business, insurance agent for sev-
eral companies, and director of Newmarket National Bank and



Strafford National Bank. [See Genealogical Notes, and accom-
panying portrait.]

Mark Henry Mathes was born in Durham 2 October 1840,
and died there 8 June 191 1. He lived on the old Mathes
homestead at Durham Point, as a successful farmer, serving the
town as selectman and representative to the legislature. In

Mark H. Mathes

the last years of his life he was compelled by rheumatism to
walk with crutches. He is characterized as honest, outspoken
and kind. [For family see Genealogical Notes.]

Gen. Alfred Hoitt was born in Northwood, 11 January 1806.
He removed fiom Lee to Durham soon after the building of the
Boston and Maine railroad and erected a fine residence close



to the station. His buildings were destroyed by fire, caused
by sparks from an engine of the railroad. This led to litigation
with the railroad for four years, and Gen. Hoitt at last won the
suit. For years he conducted a lucrative business in shipping
produce to Boston. He was a major general of the New Hamp-
shire militia and a sturdy represcntati\-e of the Jeffersonian type


Gen. Alfred Hoitt

of democracy. He served as reprcscntati\e and State senator
for Lee and was once unanimously elected selectman of that
town. He also represented Durham in the legislature. Within
less than a year after his removal lo Do\er, about 1880, he ran
for mayor and lacked only one hundred and seven votes of de-
feating the opposing candidate in a city of one thousand Repub-
lican majority. He died in Dover 9 November 1883.


In the previous chapter it has been a pleasure to extol the
virtues of the departed, and nobody can complain because of
this, since death glorifies our beloved. It is now necessary to
say something about some who are li\'ing, and here words must
be carefully chosen and a severe simplicit>' is demanded. Some-
how most of us poor mortals cannot well bear to hear our own
living acquaintances praised beyond ourselves. It is impossible
to mention all the good people of Durham in this chapter.
Modesty should be a prominent trait of the living, and the writer
wishes to avoid any accusation of flattery and of having kissed
the Blarney Stone. Therefore, the following statements deal
with facts only, which must speak for themselves. The names
are arranged to suit the illustrations, without any reference to

Hon. Joshua B. Smith, son of Hon. Valentine Smith, was born
in Durham 28 July 1823. He has served as moderator ten times,
as town clerk, 1851-56, selectman nineteen years, treasurer
eleven years, representative in 1865, 1866 and 1878, state sena-
tor 1875-77, councilor 1877-78, and delegate to the Constitu-
tional Convention in 1876. He was one of the leaders in the
organization of the Durham Social Library- and was for a long
time librarian and then president of the Durham Library Associa-
tion. He is a member of the Congregational church and, like
his father, has done much to support and advance it, both having
been active in the building of the present church edifice. He has
been a member of the State Board of Agriculture and a justice
of the peace.

His sister, Miss Mary E. Smith, has been associated with him
in all good works. For years she played the church organ gra-
tuitously. Her private library has been at the ser\'ice of many,
and for a long time she was president of the board of trustees of
Durham Library Association, a director, librarian, and on the
■committee for the ^election of books, without any compensation
except the thanks and good will of the people. And is not that
•enough for generous souls? The poor have had in her a bene-




factress, and many others owe to her more than money can pay.
They who give themselves to society give most.

Dea. Winthrop S. Meserve, son of Smith and Abigail (Emer*
son) Meserve, was born in Durham 7 February 1838. He stud-
ied at Durham, Berwick and Hampton Academies. At the age
of eighteen he assumed management of the old Emerson farm,
which he acquired later. He has been a leader in the Congre-

HoN. Joshua B. Smith

gational church, serving as clerk of the church since 1871 and
of the society since 1875 and as deacon since 1877. To the busi-
ness of a farmer he added that of lumbering. He has served two
years as county commissioner. In politics he is an independent
Democrat, and both parts of that name have hindered advance-
ment in political office in Durham. This has never weighed
heavily upon his spirit, nor has it lessened the public esteem in
which he is held. In town affairs he has often acted as moderator.



overseer of the poor, selectman and on \arious committees. He
is also a justice of the peace. As a member of the committee to
collect material and publish a history of Durham he has been
zealous and efificient, the acknowledged superior of all in knowl-
edge of genealogical details of the town's old families. He has
gathered and imparted such information b\- patient search of

Forrest S. Smith

public records and by an extensive correspondence of many years.
He has done this con amore, for the mere lo\e of it — the trait of
the expert genealogist. [See frontispiece of Vol. II.]

Forrest S. Smith, seventh in descent from Joseph Smith, was
born 30 June 1857, and owns the same acres on which his first
American ancestor settled. He was educated at Exeter Academy


and passed examination for admission to the Yale Scientific School ^
but the death of his father threw upon him the care of the farm.
He taught school in Durham and served some years on the
school committee. He made a specialty of raising hay and cattle.
In 1887 he went to Boston and secured a position in a wholesale
commission house, that deals largely in hay and grain. In 1892

Hon. Jeremiah Langley

he became a member of the firm known as Hosmer, Robinson &
Co., and they do the largest wholesale hay and grain business
in the world, as is claimed. Although he keeps his legal residence
in Durham and maintains a summer home on the ancestral
estate, he lives most of the year in Brookline, Mass. His ofiice
is at the Chamber of Commerce building.


Mr. Smith married, i September 1887, Sarah Adla Thompson,
daughter of Dea. John E. Thompson, and they have traveled
extensively in America and Europe. He is a member of the
Algonquin Club, of the Boston Athletic Association, of the
Boston Art Club, of the Grae Burn Country Club of Newton,
and of the Masonic order.

Hon. Jeremiah Langley was born in Durham 25 March 1841.
He was educated in the public school and at the age of fifteen
had learned the trade of a shoemaker. He also learned to man-
age a farm and raise hay, and, knowing the value of this product,
he has bought and sold a good deal of it. In 1890 he and sons
bought a line of barges for transporting coal from Portsmouth to
Dover, Exeter, Newmarket and Durham. He has taken great
interest in political affairs and has served his town in varied
"ofifices, as moderator, selectman three times, representative and
senator. While in the legislature he did much toward securing
the removal of the agricultural college from Hanover to Durham.
As senator he served on the committees on railroads, agriculture,
incorporations, elections and soldiers' home. He has been presi-
dent of the Republican Club of Durham and a recognized leader
in that party for twenty years, The Grange and Public Library
acknowledge his services, and the Newmarket Bank has had him
as director. He is a Mason and an Odd Fellow, speaking after
the manner of lodges, and to speak plainly he is an energetic
farmer, business man and political leader.

Hon. Lucien Thompson was born at the old Thompson home-
stead in Durham 3 June 1859. ^^ hen he was ten years old his
father died and the family removed to Manchester, where Lucien
graduated from the high school at the age of eighteen, being the
salutatorian of his class. Preferring farming to a course of
classical study in college he returned to the homestead in Durham
and became a successful farmer; yet he has found time to serve
his town and state in various offices, such as supervisor, treas-
urer and moderator of ten town meetings. He has been a justice
of the peace since 1886 and for a long time notary public. From
1887 to 1892 he was a member of the State Board of Agriculture,
and since 1892 he has been a trustee of the New Hampshire Col-
lege of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and is secretary of the
board. At the age of twenty-seven, he was elected representative
to the legislature. He was a member of the senate in 1893-94,


and served as chairman of the committee on agriculture and as
member of committees on education, state prison and industrial
school, labor, and public improvements. He was on Governor
Bachelder's staff with rank of colonel.

Col. Thompson, for so he is popularly called, inherited the
valuable library of his aunt, Miss Mary P. Thompson, and has
written historical articles for the newspapers and the Granite
Monthly. He assisted his aunt in gathering material for her
Landmarks in Ancient Dover and for more than a score of years
has been collecting material for the history of his native town.
The facts pertaining to military history, cemeteries, old houses,
slavery, post offices, and many details of educational and ecclesi-
astical history, that are recorded in this book, are the result
of his long and painstaking research. Indeed, without his
cooperation the history of Durham must have been incomplete.

Col. Thompson drafted the by-laws of the Durham Social
Library and has been secretary of that and of the Durham
Library Association since i88i. He is a charter member of
Scammell Grange, its secretary many years, lecturer and over-
seer of the Pomona Grange, and a member of the State Grange
executive committee. He is a charter member of the New
Hampshire Genealogical Society and has been a trustee and the
treasurer of the same, and belongs to the Sons of the American
Revolution. When in the legislature he was a member of the
special committee that erected the present Strafford County
court house.

As a working member of the Congregational church he gave
much assistance in editing its historical manual. He has also
edited and published several historical pamphlets and papers
read before patriotic societies. It is to be regretted that the
health of himself and his family does not permit him to live con-
tinuously in Durham. For several years his winter home has
been in University Park, Denver, Col. [See Genealogical Notes
and frontispiece of Vol. I.]

Hon. Daniel Chesley, son of Daniel and Margery Steele (Wood-
man) Chesley, was born in Madbury ii October 1859. He
lives on the old farm that has been in the possession of the Ches-
ley family from the earliest beginnings of Durham and is a
practical and successful farmer as well as a general contractor,
doing a lot of building in stone, brick and wood. He has



served on the board of selectmen, as representative to the
legislature and as a member of the State Constitutional Conven-
tion of 1902. He is now filling the ofiice of State senator for
the term of 1913-14 and is chairman of the committee on town^
and parishes and a member of committees on military affairs,
agriculture, state hospital, and fish and game. He belongs to

Hon." D.wiei. Chesley

the orders of Odd Fellows, Knights of P>thias and Patrons of
Husbandry. His portrait tells the rest of the story.

Charles Wentworth, eon of Charles H. and Ann Elizabeth
(Stacy) Wentworth, was born in North Berwick, Me., 10 July
1872, eighth in descent from Elder William Wentworth, one of the
earliest settlers of Dover and bearing a surname that was been



honored in history. He was educated in the North Berwick
High School and in New Hampshire College. He has served as
town clerk of Durham since 1904 and represented the town in the
legislature, 1905-06, serving as secretary on the standing com-
mittee on agricultural college, and partly by his influence money
was appropriated for the college gymnasium. He has also been

Charles Wentworth

on the school board five years and has been station agent of the
Boston and Maine Railroad since 1900. He is a member of the
Sons of Veterans, his father having served three years during the
Civil War in Company F. 4th New Hampshire Volunteers. He
married, in 1898, Evelyn Jenkins of Lee, a student of New
Hampshire College, and they have one daughter, Valerie. A
social companion, an artist in telling a story and in illustrating



it with pen or brush, a faithful and accommodating olihcial, a
modest and unassuming man of worth, — such is the impression
that he makes upon one who knows him a Httle below the surface.
Col. Arioch Wentworth Griffiths was born in Packer's Falls
district 31 August 1851. He was educated in the common
school, Newmarket High School and the Franklin Academy of

Col. Arioch \V. Griffiths

Dover. Together with his father and brother he has developed
one of the best farms in Strafford County. The set of buildings,
twelve in number, includes a handsome two-story residence,
equipped with electric lights, steam heat and telephone, and a
spacious barn, 41 by no feet, which has a capacity for 150 tons
of hay. An electric mill has been built, capable of producing


600 barrels of cider per day. The output averaged 1,000 bar-
rels per year for thiity-five years. Owing to change of laws
and failure of the apple crop the mill is now idle. Mr. Griffiths
is a Republican in politics, has served two years as selectman
and as moderator of town meetings twelve years in succes-
sion, holding that office now. He also holds at the present time
his seventh commission as deputy sheriff. Since 31 May 1888
he has been an active member of the Knights of Pythias, being a
member of Pioneer Lodge, No. i, of Newmarket. He was
actively instrumental in the organization of Sullivan Lodge, No.
26, of Durham. He filled the various chairs and became a
member of the Grand Lodge in 1891. He was a charter member
of W. A. Frye Company, No. 5, U. R. He was second lieutenant
at its organization, afterward elected five times first lieutenant,
and was promoted to the lank of major on regimental staff. After
holding this position two years he was elected lieutenant-
colonel and held the position two years. He was then appointed
assistant inspector general on the brigade staff with the rank of
colonel, in which position he served two terms of four years each.
He was then appointed assistant quartermaster general with
same rank, in which office he is now serving his second term. He
belongs to the Sons of the American Revolution and was for many
years a director of the Newmarket National Bank.

Albert DeMeritt was born in Durham 26 August 1 85 1 . Besides
caring for a farm of three hundred acres and doing much in lum-
ber business he has held many public offices, such as moderator
of town meetings eleven times, and two terms representative
in the legislature, where he served on the standing committee
on agricultural college and on the committee on appropriations.
In appreciation of his work in the legislative session of 191 1 the
faculty and trustees of New Hampshire College each unanimously
passed resolutions of commendation.

Mr. DeMeritt was a member of the Constitutional Conven-
tion in 1889 and again in 19 12. He served on the State Board of
Agriculture nine years and has been one of the trustees of the
college. He has taken great interest in education, serving on the
school board nine years. He drafted the free text-book bill,
which became a law in 1887 and remains in force unchanged,
so complete that almost all the other states have adopted it.
Through his efforts the Durham Lyceum was organized, which


ran for a decade with remarkable success, attracting people from
the neighboring towns.

Mr. DeMeritt is a member of Scammell Grange and past
chancellor commander of Sullivan Lodge of Knights of Pythias.
He is also a justice of the peace. New Hampshire College has
conferred upon him the degree of Master of Science.*

Albert DeMeritt

Charles E. Hoitt, son of Gen. Alfred Hoitt, was born 8 March
1849. After spending a few years in Concord he settled in Dur-
ham, buying and remodeling the old Ballard house. Like his
father he belongs to the Democratc party. His popularity is
shown by the fact, that, although Durham always casts its
presidential vote for Republican electors, and has chosen only
four Democratic representatives since the Civil War, he and
his father are two of that four. He has been elected selectman

* Mr. DeMeritt, shot accidentally, died 22 August 1913, much esteemed and lamented by a
host of friends.



sixteen times and still holds that office. He has filled every chair
in Sullivan Lodge of Knights of Pythias, including grand chan-
cellor. He is also a prominent officer in Scammell Grange. He
is now serving his second term as county commissioner. His
popularity is due to his cordial way of meeting all people and
to honesty and economy in handling the people's money, the

Charles E. Hoitt

necessary expenses in a new college town demanding wise and
strict calculation.

Valentine Mathes was born in Durham 13 February 1846. At
the age of eighteen he began river freighting to Portsmouth,
Exeter and Newmarket. After three years he turned his atten-
tion to railroading in New York and Boston for a year. Then



he bought out Joseph W. Coe at Durham village, where he kept
a general country store and served as postmaster from 1872 to
1880. He then removed to Dover, where for sixteen years he did
a large business in groceries, coal, wood, hay and grain. This
business was sold in order that he might devote all his time
to the lumber business, in which he had been interested actively

\'alentine Mathes

from boyhood and which had grown extensivel>-. In this busi-
ness his son, John E. Mathes, is associated with him.

Mr. Mathes owns and rents to tenants one hundred and sixteen
tenements, offices and stores and is the largest individual tax-
payer in Dover. He and his brother, Hamilton A. Mathes,
organized the Pascataqua Navigation Company, with a capital



of $100,000, and have two boats and twelve barges engaged in
river freighting from Eastport, Me., to Boston, Mass.

He has been representative to the legislature and has served
in the common council of Dover. He is a Mason, Granger, Red
Man, Elk, Odd Fellow, and, last but not least, a member of the
Congregational church.

Charles S. Langley

Charles S. Langley, son of Hon. Jeremiah Langley, was born
in Durham 1 1 October 1867. He has been a member of the school
board eighteen years and represented the town in the legislature,.
1903-04, serving on the committee on Agricultural College.
Since boyhood he has been associated with his father in the hay
and lumber business and in river freighting. In addition he



deals in automobiles and has planned and built several houses
in Durham Village. He has been a director of Newmarket
National Bank about fifteen years. He is affiliated with the
Grangers, the Knights of Pythias, and the Elks. The Langley
home is one of hospitality, prosperity and ambitious content-
ment. [For family see Genealogical Notes.]

George W. Ransom

George W. Ransom was born in Durham, i January 1858,
son of Alonzo and Isabella (Hook) Ransom. He brushed aside
all obstacles to his way through preparatory schools and college
by working on a farm after he was fourteen years of age at eight-
een dollars per. month and by chopping white oak cord wood in
the winter at fifty cents a cord, and he has made himself richer


than those who allowed him to do it. He fitted for college at
Franklin Academy, Dover and New Hampton Literary Institu-
tion and graduated at Dartmouth in 1886 with the degree of
A. B. Meanwhile he taught school in Middleton, Wolfeboro
and the village school at Durham three years. This kept him
away from his work in college twelve weeks of each year. The
writer hereof knows just what that means by happy and profita-
ble experience. One learns to study as well as to teach by

After graduation Mr. Ransom taught in Walpole, N. H.,
Pepperell, Mass., Warner, N. H., and since 1893 in Boston, Mass.,
where he has served as submaster and master of schools in Dor-
chester, Roxbury and the city proper. He is now master of
the Abraham Lincoln School, which has 2,400 pupils, perhaps

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 26 of 34)