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 27 of 34)
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the largest school in New England. He has also been principal
of the South Boston Evening High School. He has taken several
courses of study in the Boston School of Technology and in Har-
vard University and has traveled extensively in Europe and in this
country. He certainly has an aptitude for hard work and for
work that counts for something. He has honored the history of
Durham more than the History of Durham can honor him.

Mr. Ransom married in June, 1893, Eliza B. Taylor at Alex-
andria Bay, New York, a graduate of Oswego Normal School
and a teacher of large experience. She graduated from the
Boston University Medical School in 1900 with degree of M. D.,
and afterward took postgraduate courses in New York and in
Johns Hopkins University. She has been instructor in the
Boston University Medical School in the chair of Histology and
is now practicing as a specialist in nervous diseases, in Boston.
They have children, Ruth, born 24 December 1903, and Eleanor
born 22 December 1905.


The earliest post office in New Hampshire was established at
Portsmouth previous to 1695, and it did business for the entire
province. Durham was first included in a mail route in 1786,
and Samuel Dearborn was the post rider, at a salary of twenty-
four pounds per annum. The cost of sending a letter forty
miles was six pence. After 1691 the rate was reduced to eight
cents for distances under forty miles and increasing gradually
to twenty cents for over three hundred miles, and twenty-five
cents for over five hundred miles. Every letter composed of
two pieces of paper paid double these rates, and so the rates
went up in proportion to size and weight. Then letters were
necessities or luxuries, and the art of compact writing was culti-

The building of Pascataqua bridge and the New Hampshire
Turnpike put Durham on the main line of travel, and then
caravans a mile long, composed of loaded teams from Ports-
mouth and from Durham wharves might be seen on their way to
Concord. Thus a post office at Durham became almost a neces-
sity, and Benjamin Thompson was appointed the first post-
master, I October 1796. He was son of Judge Ebenezer Thomp-
son and served for twenty years as clerk of the Court of Common
Pleas in Strafford County. He was also a justice of the peace
and a trustee of Durham Academy. The post office was then
in a building near the location of the present office, in a store that
was burned several years ago.

Mr. Thompson was succeeded, i October 1802, by Edward
Wells, who served during the administration of President Thomas
Jefferson. Mr. Wells was taxed in the Lubberland district in
1794. A deed from Benjamin Chesley to Joseph Coe, dated
21 July 1804, conveying land adjoining on which now stands
the Town Hall, contains the following clause, "adjoining land in
possession of Edward Wells as his store now stands," and here
was the post office. Mr. Wells married Margery, daughter of
Theophilus and Mary (Sullivan) Hardy, and taught school
in Durham sev^eral terms between 1802 and 1812. His sons
became noted men, Samuel being governor of Maine, Joseph



lieutenant-governor of Illinois, John A., United States senator
from New Hampshire and candidate for Governor.

Benjamin Underwood Lapish was the next postmaster, taking
office I January 1808 and holding it only six months. The post
office at this time was in the Alonzo Ransom house.

George Ffrost was the fourth postmaster in Durham. He was
appointed i July 1808, and he or his son, George, held office till
5 January 1848. The office during this time was in a store on
the north side of the road at Durham Falls bridge. Mr. Ffrost
was a magistrate, merchant and extensive farmer, representing
the town in the General Court in 1807.

William J. Chesley was the successor of George Ffrost and
served till 25 July 1849, a little more than one year. He inherited
his grandfather's, Benjamin Chesley's, homestead, living on the
spot where now is the residence of the president of the college.
He kept the post office in the southeast corner of his residence.
He served as selectman, moderator, and delegate to the Con-
stitutional Convention in 1850.

Mrs. Mary A. Page succeeded Mr. Chesley and held the office
till 23 May 1853. She was Mary Ann Gilman and married
Joseph W. Page, 30 November 1823. She kept the post office
in the west front room of the house east of the house in which
was the post office in 1902, and Mr. Page kept a store over the
well between his dwelling house and the residence of Mrs. Hamil-
ton Smith. He died 9 March 1834, aged 42. Mrs. Page lived
in the house here mentioned till her death, in 1882.

Alfred D. Hoitt was appointed postmaster 23 May 1853, and
held the office about four years, during the administration of
President Franklin Pierce. Mr. Hoitt kept a general store in
a building formerly standing opposite the old railroad station
and now removed to Thompson Avenue. Here was the post office.

Mr. Hoitt removed to Charlestown, Mass., and became promi-
nent in politics, serving as alderman and in the common council.
He was a hay and grain merchant on Canal Street, Boston, for
thirty years, removing to Arlington in 1873, where he served
on the water board and board of assessors as chairman. He
was a director of the Metropolitan Bank and vice-president of
the Arlington National Bank. He served several times as dele-
gate to Democratic national conventions and was superintendent
of the Arlington branch of the Boston post office.


Joseph \V. Coe became postmaster 9 July 1857. He kept the
office in the old brick store in the Town Hall building and in
the Perkins store across the street. He was educated at Durham
Academy and was engaged in mercantile pursuits for twenty
years. He purchased the beautiful Steele residence, where he
long resided. Being a Union man he identified himself with

Joseph William ("oe

the Republican party in 1861. The income of the post office in
his time was only about $200 annually. [See Genealogical

Valentine Mathes, Jr., was appointed postmaster 12 August
1872, to succeed Mr. Coe. He served under the administration
of President U. S. Grant, and kept the office in a store opposite


the Town Hall building. He was also town clerk. He sold out
his business to Jasper R. McDaniel, and removed to Dover.

Jasper R. McDaniel became postmaster 15 November 1880.
He was the son of the late John R. McDaniel, Esq., and lived
in the house afterward owned and occupied by Prof. Charles
L. Parsons. The post office was continued in its previous quarters.
Mr. McDaniel sold his business to Chauncey E. Hayes, and
removed to Maiden, Mass.

Alvin Jackson began his duties as postmaster 24 August 1885.
He was born in Madbury in 1848, and for many years was en-
gaged in business in the store belonging to Miss Louise S. Smithy
residing in the tenement over the store. He served under both
President Cleveland and President Harrison.

Chauncey E. Hayes was appointed postmaster 5 April 1889,.
and the office was again removed to the Town Hall building,,
in the room now used as the town safe. Mr. Hayes carried on
a general store and was town treasurer, 1892-96. He is still
living in Durham village and all four of his children have gradu-
ated at New Hampshire College.

Alvin Jackson again came into office 17 June 1893 and served
till I July 1897, when George D. Stevens was appointed post-
master. The removal of the post office from the Town Hall
under the hill to a point nearer the college occasioned some con-
test. The store east of the Benjamin Thompson residence was-
fitted up and again the post office was located here, in the same
building where it was kept under the first postmaster, 1 796-1 802.
Mr. Stevens occupied the tenement over the store for a dwelling.
The post office remained here but a few months. On a Sunday
afternoon, 12 December 1897, the Alvin Jackson store was
discovered to be on fire. As this building was about two feet
from the post office building, the contents of the latter were
hurriedly removed to the grocery store of Walter S. Edgerly
in Whitcher's block, where it remained a few days. The post
office building and the Benjamin Thompson residence, at that
time used as a girls' dormitory, were completely destroyed.

Within a few days the post office was removed to the annex
of the store of Gorham H. Sawyer, opposite the Alvin Jackson
store. March 20, 1899, it was removed to the Mary P. Thompson
house, so called, owned by Hon. Lucien Thompson, who fitted
up the west side of the house for the accommodation of the public.



Mr. Stevens occupied the rest of the house for a residence. The
post office was first Hghted by electricity in the spring of 1900.
Mr. Stevens served sixteen years as town clerk and is justice
of the peace. He was prominent as an officer in the Scammell
Grange and in Sullivan Lodge of the Knights of Pythias having
filled the chairs and been chancellor commander. He was born

George D. Stevens

16 November i860, son of David and Hannah (Lee) Stevens^
and married, 14 September 1892, Gertrude Isabelle Davis.
They have two daughters, Marjorie Pearley Stevens, born 6
November 1896, and Louise Esther Stevens, born 21 June 1907.

The income of the post office greatly increased after the re-
moval of the college to Durham, and by order of the Post Office


Department at Washington it became a third-class post office
on and after i January 1904. The rural free delivery route was
inaugurated i December 1902. Previous to this time Dover
rural route, No. 6, served Pascataqua Bridge section and con-
tinues to do so.

Owing to need of more suitable quarters for the rapidly in-
creasing amount of mail the post office department agreed with
Mr. Lucien Thompson that if he would build and equip a new
post office building, not connected with any other building and
not used in part for dwelling or store, and suitably furnish the
same, they would lease it for a long term of years. The build-
ing was erected in 1907 and occupied on the first day of November
of that year. It is an up-to-date building with first class furnish-
ings for postal business, electric lights, steam heat, and flagpole.


In deeds cited on page 59 it is shown that Dr. Samuel Adams
built the Sullivan house previous to the year 1 741, on land deed d
to him by his father, the Rev. Hugh Adams, in 1743. Here
Dr. Samuel Adams lived till his death, in 1762, and his widow,
Rebecca (Hall) Adams, sold the house and three acres of land to
John Sullivan, 19 December 1764. Here lived Gen. Sullivan
till his death, in 1795, and his widow lived here till her death,
in 1820. Mr. Amory described it as "a large square house of
two stories, with handsome carved balusters to the staircase,
and other richly moulded wood work. It was the center of a
cluster of attached or surrounding buildings, his library and
office, dairy, granary, stables and bee-hives, some of which have
been removed. ... . Here he had his council chamber, as
President Governor, and here public affairs were transacted.
Various distinguished persons from all parts of the country and
Europe were his guests."

The road leading to the wharf ran between this house and the
•old meeting house. Maples and poplars surround the house
now, and probably did in the early days. The land sloping
down to the wharf was terraced long. ago. The house contains
fourteen rooms, and a sun-parlor has recently been added to
the rear. The large rooms have fireplaces about the central
chimney, and in some rooms the wall-paper of Revolutionary
times has been preserved. Ornamental panelings and carvings
attest the taste and luxury of original owners.

There was a dilapidated building in the rear of this house, which
•some say was the abode of Gen. Sullivan's slaves. Others think
it was his law office.

About 1834 Capt. Ebcnezer Thompson bought the house and
here he and his wife died the same night, 26-27 January 1853.
His son, Charles A. C. Thompson, inherited the place and died
here 4 December 1868. It then passed into the possession of
Miss Lucetta M. Davis. After her death it belonged to Charles
H. Mitchell of Dover. In 1912 it was purchased and thoroughly
repaired by Mr. Lynde Sullivan, a lawyer of Boston and great-
grandson of Gov. James Sullivan of Massachusetts, who was
22 337

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brother to Gen. J(jhn Sullivan. Since Gov. James Sullivan
married Hetty Odiorne, grand-daughter of the Rev. Hugh
Adams, it follows that Mr. Lynde Sullivan has acquired his
own ancestral estate, which the Rev. Hugh Adams bought in
1 71 7. Long may the Sullivan family own, preserve and enjoy
the house and land made famous by occupants of two centuries.
About three rods south of the Sullivan house is the site of
the house built between 171 7 and 1720 by the Rev. Hugh Adams,
for at the latter date John Drew, carpenter, of Portsmouth sued
said Adams for twelve pounds, wages of himself and son, John.

Inn of Master John Smith
Built soon after 1700

Here lived the Rev. Hugh Adams and later it was the home
of the Rev. Alvan Tobey, D. D., when he first came to Durham.
It was called a parsonage, though it seems never to have been
owned by the town or the church. Valentine Smith lived in
this house when he removed from Lubberland. Many years
ago it was hauled to its present location, on the road from the
Falls to Newmarket, on the north side of Denbow's brook,
on land that once belonged to Benjamin Thompson, Sr. In
his will, 1838, he called it his "Long Marsh Farm." The house
has been repaired and slightly remodeled and is in good condi-
tion. Israel P. Church once lived in it.

A little south of where the Rev. Hugh Adams lived there is a






































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house, the rear part of which, or L, has the appearance of being
very old. There was a house here in 1682, when John Mighell
sold it to Samuel Burnham. See page 58. James, son of Samuel
Burnham, sold it to Dr. Jonathan Crosby in 1718. Capt. Daniel
Rogers, blacksmith, bought this place, or a place near by, of
Peter Mason, in 1735. He died in 1785.

On the west side of the road is a very old house. James Smith
was licensed to keep a public house here in 1686. His grandson,
John, is called "innkeeper," and he died in 1739. Master John
Smith lived here in Revolutionary times, and his daughter, Sarah,
married Seth S. Walker in 18 10. This location w'as reckoned
within the region called "Broth Hill" and the rhyme has been
handed down:

" Broth Hill, the city of Seth ;
Were it not for Joe Coe,
They would all starve to death. "

Joseph Coe was a ship-builder, and many of his workmen
lived in cottages on Broth Hill. After Walker's time the old
Smith mansion was dwelt in by John Drew. It now belongs to
the Ffrost family.

Next north of the old Smith inn is a stone house, built in
recent times by Howard and James Paul. James was killed in
taking down the staging. Here lived Rev. Mr. Barnum and Rev.
C. H. Chapin. Next to this is the house built by Lieut. -Col.
Winborn Adams, who acquired land here of Derry Pitman. Here
he and his wdfe, Sarah, kept an inn, and town meetings were
sometimes held here. The place is now owned by Fred E. Jenkins.
The frame and the foundation for the chimney are about all
that remains of the old house. The latter is of massive stone
and fills about half of the cellar. The first meetings of the pro-
prietors of Holderness were held in this inn, from 1762 to about
1768. Later they were he.ld in the inn of John Layn at New-
town, in Lee.

Evidence abundant has been cited in the chapter on Early
Settlers and Estates, page 70, to prove that Valentine Hill built
a house on the north side of the river and not far from his mill
as early as 1649. In the Dover rate-list for 1661 is found "Mr.
Hills mill and house and lands." Capt. Nathaniel Hill, son of
Valentine, lived here. Bartholomew Stevenson built a house
on the hill, not far from Hill's house, about 1687. Tradition



says that the house built by Valentine Hill is now the so-called
Ffrost house. Additions and repairs have been made, but the
appearance of the oldest part of the house warrants the belief
that here is the original house built by the leading man of Oyster
River, about 1649. Its location, both for defence and for com-
manding view, was the only suitable place for the wealthy mill-
owner to live. There is no record that the Indians even attempted
to capture it in 1694. The house and land about it passed into
the possession of Jonathan Woodman, who sold it to George
Ffrost after 1796, and it has been occupied by the Ffrost family

Interior of Residence of Aiiss Margaret B. Ffrost

The portraits on the wall are of her great-great-grandfather, John F"rost
and his wife, Marj' (Pepperrell) who was sister of Sir William Pepperrell

until now. The rare, antique furniture well befits the abode.
Here for over two centuries and a half has been the home of
comparative wealth, comfort and beautiful surroundings.

The house once owned by Capt. Joseph Richardson was a
licensed hotel. Here town and jury meetings have been held.
Capt. Richardson was born in Boston, 25 December 1756. He
served six years in 1 he Revolutionarj- War and was twice wounded.
His son, John A. Richardson, lived and died in this house. His
daughter, Mrs. Frances P. Treadwell, sold the place and after
extensive repairs it became the residence of Mr. and Mrs.
George H. Mendell. Mrs. Mendell was formerly Miss Mary B.



Smith, daughter of Hon. Hamilton Smith, grand-daughter of
Judge Valentine Smith.

The Hamilton Smith house was built by the Re\'. John Blyden-
burgh and afterward was owned by his daughter, Margaret. It
has been owned b\- Prof. John S. Woodman, George Ffrost,
Joshua B. Smith, Irene Cheney, Mary H. Chesley, Mary E.
Smith and Hamilton Smith, who bought it 2 December 1895.
He made extensive improvements in the place, adding quite a
portion of the Buzzell field in the rear as well as the Mary H.

Residence of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Mendell

Chesley lot in front, making it the most valuable homestead
in Durham. The house is known as "Red Tower" and is
owned by Mrs. Shirley Onderdonk, daughter of Mrs. Hamilton
Smith by her first marriage. The spacious garden in front, on
the o{)posite side of the road, is free to all lovers of the beauti-
ful. The accompanying picture describes the exterior of the
house far better than words can do. The interior is the abode
of comfort, artistic elegance, peace and happy memories. The
village school was located on the \estry lot east of this house

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until 1854, when the schoolhouse was built where now the
grange hall is located. When the Mary H. Chesley lot was
sold, in 1895, the house thereon was removed to a lot near
the college, owned by Dea. W. S. Meserve, and was ex-
tensively lepaired. This old house was located very near the
Joshua B. Smith house and was owned by Ephraim Folsom,
who died in 1785. Robert Lapish, Jr., Dr. John Angier and
Jacob Odell, lived here. There was a house on the east side of
the Mary H. Chesley house until 1867, when it was destroyed
by fire. It was then owned by Mrs. Alfred Chesley. Judge
Jonathan Steele owned this place and lived here till he built
the present Coe house. Steele sold the place, 17 February 1813,
to James Durgin, Jr. Dr. Jedediah Ingalls once owned and oc-
cupied this house.

The house now owned by Joshua B. Smith and his sister,
Miss Mary E. Smith, was bought by their father, Hon. Valen-
tine Smith, at auction sale, 7 December 1814. It had been
previously owned by William Ballard, who was born 6 February
1787, and died 26 October 181 1. Prior to him it was owned
by Stephen Cogan, and before him James Drisco, a mariner
from Portsmouth, owned the place. He died 31 January 1778.
Before Drisco the place was owned by John Layn, blacksmith,
who bought it of Nathaniel Hill, 23 May 1763. Tradition in the
Layn family says the house was built in 1735. When the Rev.
George W'hitefield passed through Durham, he dined in the
east front room.

The land where the Ebenezer Smith house stands was originally
owned by Valentine Hill and was sold by Nathaniel Hill to
Jonathan Clough, 16 January 1761. After being owned by
various members of the Clough family it was sold by Zaccheus
and Love Clough to Thomas Pinkham, 7 June 1777, when men-
tion is made of a dwelling house thereon. Thomas Pinkham sold
to Ebenezer Smith, 10 November 1783. Smith built the present
house, which long has remained in the Smith family. Here have
visited many of the notable men of a century ago.

The Mary P. Thompson house was owned by Abraham Per-
kins, born 20 January 1771, who died 16 January 1863, and
before him by Mrs. Mehitable (Sheafe) Smith. Oliver C. De-
merit acquired it in 1837, and he and wife, Sarah, sold it to Miss
Mary P. Thompson, 2 November i860, for $1,035. Through


















her will it was inherited by Hon. Lucien Thompson. Here Miss
Thompson lived and wrote her Landmarks in Ancient Dover
and pursued her genealogical and historical researches. William
Ballard traded in a little shop on this lot.

The Benjamin Thompson house was purchased by Benjamin








Thompson, Sr., 2 April 1790, of his brother-in-law, James Leigh-
ton. Benjamin Thompson, Jr., inherited it by will of his father,
in 1838. Here he was born and died. He bequeathed this
place, in 1890, to the State of New Hampshiie for the use of the
college. Miss Lucetta M. Dav^is remained in the house a short
•time. It was afterward repaired and was occupied by President


C. S. Murkland till 1895. It was then used as a girls' dormitory
until it was destroyed by fire, Sunday, 12 December 1897.^

The house now owned by Charles E. Hoitt was built by Joshua
Ballard, who bought the land i October 1782. The land had
been previously owned in succession by Valentine Hill, Nathaniel
Hill, Dea. Hubbard Stevens, Moses Emerson, Capt. Abednego
Leathers, Daniel Hardy. The house passed from Joshua Ballard
to his daughter, Elizabeth Smith, and has since been owned by
Joshua B. Smith, Eugene Thurston and Gen. Alfred Hoitt.
The Re\'. Alvan Tobey, D. D., lived in this house during the
last of his long pastorate in Durham.

The house now owned by Mrs. Ann M. Jenkins was built by
Stephen Mitchell, Esq., who began practice as a lawyer in Dur-
ham in 1805. It was afterward owned by a Mr. Flanders, who
died in 1833. It has since been owned and occupied Dr. Thomas
Flanders, Dr. Alphonso Bickford, Zilla B. Burbank, and Mrs.
Silas Jenkins.

The Mathes-Talbot-Parsons house is said to have been built
by Daniel Mathes, because his wife would not live at Durham
Point. Daniel Mathes married, 26 January 1806, Abigail,
daughter of the Rev. Curtis Coe. She died 11 January 1807,
aged 23, and he married Betty Folsom, and moved back to the
Point. The house was afterward owned and occupied by Meij.
Benjamin Mathes, John McDaniel, Rev. Henry L. Talbot,
and Prof. Charles L. Parsons. The last two made extensive
improvements in the house and grounds, making it one of the
best residences in town. It is now occupied by a club of students.

The first house below J. W. Coe's, going toward Pascataqua
bridge, was brought up the river from "Franklin City by John
T. Emerson," he having bought the same from Ballard Pinkham
in 1 82 1. The land once belonged to the Jackson and Leathers
families, and was bought by Mr. Emerson of Philip and Joseph
Chesley. It has recently been acquired by Prof. C. Floyd

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 27 of 34)