Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole.

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

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lived a long time. Stephen Jenkins' house stood on or very
near the site of the old house now standing on the hilltop, and
William Williams lived, as the above citation shows, near the
river bank, twenty rods west of the parsonage lot. The Mathes
brickyard accounts for the disappearance of the cellar.

March 6, 1743/4, John Jenkins and Rebecca, his wife, sold
to Valentine Mathes thirty acres which he purchased of his
father, Stephen Jenkins, bounded on "y® west or norwest side
by land now in possession of Jeremiah Burnham and Robert
Burnham, on y"^ north or northeast side by y'' town Lot, on east
or south side by a high way y* leads from y® town Lot to a Place
called Long Marsh."

William Roberts lived on the next lot west, the same who was
killed by Indians in 1675. He sold a piece next to the road,
on the back side of his lot to Thomas Doughty, who sold it to
John Cutts of Portsmouth in 1667. The place still goes by the
name of Cutts' Hill. In 1664 Roberts gave a deed of his remain-
ing land to William Pitman, who had been living there since
earlier than 1657 and had, perhaps, married Roberts' daughter,
Ann. In the sale to "William Pitman & to his Eldest son
Ezekiel Pitman" the land is described as adjacent to "Rob*
Burnhams lands on the north west side of it And Thomas Dow-
ties on the South east side to a marked tree at ye lower end
of the fresh marsh & from thence along the brow of ye Hill till
it meet with Robert Burnhams line and from thence along
his line to Oyster River & ye River bounds ye other end." The
price was sixteen pounds. Here lived the Pitman family many
years. The southerly end of the farm on the south side of the
main road is still known as the Pitman field.

The next lot west of Roberts' land was originally owned by
Ambrose Gibbons, the leader of Capt. John Mason's colony
in the settlement at Great Works, now in South Berwick, Me.
He settled here before 1640, and on the 5th of the loth month,
1652, he had a grant of land adjoining his marsh from the "creek
between his land and William Roberts" to the "western creek."



HISTORY OF DURHAM 57

This grant of two hundred acres he willed to Henr>- Sherburne
of Portsmouth, who had married his only child, Rebecca Gibbons.
On the I2th of May 1657, Henry Sherburne, for £100, conveyed
to Robert Burnham of Oyster River "one dwelling house with
the out howses appertayning thereto with all the lands which
the said Ambrose Gibbins Dyed possessed off," "betweene the
Creeke upon the lands of William Pitman, formerly William
Roberts, toward the South East and a certaync Creeke towards
the west abutting upon said River called Oyster River towards
the east and so runneth up into the woods towards the South
to the quantity of about two hundred acres," "and also all
the meadow lying in Oyster River aforesaid w'hich the said Am-
bros Gibbins Dyed possessed ofT." See Suffolk Deeds, III, 17.
The original deed is in the possession of S. H. Shackford, Esq.,
Boston. The land was laid out to Robert Burnham in 1661,
one hundred rods on the river and running southwest 388 rods,
"from the head of the creeke near William Pitmans house
upon a south west line 388 rods long and it lieth from Benjamin
Mathewes his lote sid south so west the breadth of this lote,"
as the Dover records say. The Burnham garrison house, — and
probably this was the house of Ambrose Gibbons, -stood on
the hilltop, where the old cellar may be plainly seen, as well as
the cellar of a smaller house or out-building near by. Ezekiel
Pitman lived within gunshot at the time of the massacre in 1694
and hearing cries of alarm escaped with his family to the Burn-
ham garrison, while his own house was burned. See Landmarks
in Ancient Dover, p. 180.

The land between the grant to Ambrose Gibbons and the
Sullivan place was originally granted to Benjamin Matthews.
June 26, 1682, John Mighcll of Newbury sold to John Davis,
junior, forty acres which he bought of Benjamin Matthews,
2 January 1673, which deed is not recorded. John Davis,
junior, was here killed by Indians, with wife and tw^o children,
in the massacre of 1694. Jeremiah Burnham was made admin-
istrator of his estate in 1702. He left a daughter, Sarah, who
returned from captivity in Canada and married Peter Mason.
She conveyed to John Sullivan, 26 September 1771, thirty acres
of the homestead on the south side of the highwa>- from the
parsonage house to Durham Point. See Landmarks in Ancient
Dover, by Miss Mary P. Thompson, p. 260.



58 HISTORY OF DURHAM

The fact that Benjamin Matthews owned this land is further
evidenced by a town record, dated 9th of 9th month, 1661,
when the lot of land granted to Ambrose Gibbons was laid out
to Robert Burnham, "from the head of the creek near William
Pitman's house," 380 rods long, "and it lieth from Benjamin
Mathews his lote sid south so west," the breadth being one hun-
dred rods.

The early history of the next lot north of John Davis' is best
told in the following citation from a deed, dated 29 March 1682.
John Mighell (pronounced M-i-l-e) of Newbury sold to Samuel
Burnham "a certain house Lott with a Dwelling house on it
y® Lott is Layd out & bounded for ten acres as will appear by
the return of it of y® Lott Layers, according to y^ grant of y«
s*^ Towne, this dwelling house w*** y® Lott & all other priviledges
& app*nances there unto belonging with a grant of four acres
more adjoining to y® s'^ ten acres at ye south end of it, if it be
to be found in ye records of ye Town of Dover afores*^. This
Lott was granted to Joseph Field by ye Town of Dover & by
him sold to James Smith of ye same town & ye s*^ James Smith
sold this portion of land to Thomas Mighell as doth appear by
a bill of sale under his hand the 28th day of 8th mo 1668 &
this bill of sale was assigned to Jn° Mighell his brother to be
as good to him, his heirs & success" as it was to Thomas Mighell."
Witnesses, James Huckins and William Johnson. N. H. Prov.
Deeds, III, 173b.

This John Mighell took oath as constable of Dover 30 June
1674. He witnessed a deed in 1669 and was a juror in 1672.
The Mighell family still has representatives in Rowley, Mass.

April 24, 1 718, James Burnham, son of the Samuel Burnham
just named, sold to Samuel Smith eighteen acres which were
sold by John Miles to Samuel Burnham, except one and a half
acres sold to Hugh Adams. October 22, 1718, James and Mary
Burnham sold to Jonathan Crosby land and buildings south
of Oyster River, which had been sold by John Miles to Samuel
Burnham. August 7, 1717, James Burnham and wife Mary
sold to Hugh Adams, minister of the Gospel, one acre and a
half "near to y® new meeting house near the falls," bounded
"northward on the s^ Oyster River, northwest on y® Landing
place adjoining to and behind the s*^ meeting house by a straight
line running from y® Corner of y® same at the s^ River south



HISTgRY *()|- DURHAM 59

westerly to an heap of stones by a pine bush distant from the
south east corner of the said meeting house just two rods five
feet and one inch, southwestward by other hinds belonging to
me" nine rods, then northeastward twenty-eight rods, thence
seven or eight rods northwest by north to a Hat rock at the
edge or brinke of the River. Witnesses, Nathaniel llill, John
Smith, and Joseph Buss. N. H. Prov. Deeds, X, 325.

April 12, 1720, Dr. Jonathan Crosl)y and wife, Hannah,
sold to "Hugh Ad^ims Cler. minister of the Gospel, one and
three quarters acres 'near ye uper Meeting house at ye first
falls,' three rods to the eastward of his said land and two rods
to ye southward thereof, from the southeast corner ol his home-
stead land one and a half rods east southeast unto a Larg Pitch
Pine, thence twenty-three rods to a Larg Black Oak, thence
north and by west thirteen rods to the river, thence three and
a half rods to a flat rock." Witnesses, Humphrey Sullivan,
Thomas Wille, William Pitman. N. H. Prov. Deeds, XI, 402.

February 4, 1741, Hugh Adams and wife, Susanna, sold to
John Adams of Boston, merchant, a jiarcel of land at "ye Land-
ing place near the meeting house, bounded southerly on land
belonging to Daniel Rogers and Samuel Smith, beginning two
rods and five feet from the southeast corner of the meeting house,
on a straight line and southeast course twenty-two rods easterly
to a pine tree, thence northerly by a stone wall sixteen rods,
thence westerly by a straight line to the landing place twelve
feet distant from ye south end of ye house belonging to Samuel
Adams, thence on ye landing place southwesterly to ye first
bounds by ye meeting house, with ye Dwelling house, Barn,
orchard, etc." N. H. Prov. Deeds, XXV, 467.

This was sold, 3 October 1764, by John and Annee Adams
of Boston to Joseph Drew, who had married LHzabeth, daughter
of the Rev. Hugh .Xdams, and Josei)h Drew soUl it, 4 October
1764, to Daniel Warner.

June 2, 1743, Hugh and Susanna Adams, for fifty [)ounds,
sold to Samuel Adams, physician, "all ye remainder part of
my homestead Lot or Tract of Land lying &. being in Durham
nigh ye falls Meeting house." bounded "by land I sold to my
son Jn° on ye South, by land of Samuel Smith Esq on ye East,
ye River on ye North, & westly by ye High way or Landing
place so called, on which my s'^ son Sam^ has built an house



60 HISTORY OF DURHAM

& barn." Witnesses, Joseph Drew and Elizabeth Drew. N. H.
Prov. Deeds, XXVIII, 143.

Dr. Samuel Adams lived here, in a house which he himself
built, till his death in 1762. His widow, Rebecca Adams,
19 December 1764, sold to John Sullivan, for 2300 pounds,
old tenor, three acres bounded "Northwesterly on the high
Way or landing place. South Westerly on lands in Possession
of Joseph Drew, South easterly on lands of Joseph Smith Esq""
Easterly by Oyster River (so called), with the Buildings &
appur^ thereunto belonging." Witnesses, Joseph Smith and
Winborn Adams.

Thus we have the history of the lot of land on which stands
the old Sullivan house so-called, built by Dr. Samuel Adams
some time before 1741.

James Smith and his descendants lived on the west side of
the road that ran in front of the meeting house after it was built
about 1716, and here his son, John, kept an "ordinary." Later
Winborn Adams bought a small lot here and he, too, had an
ordinary. The Smith land extended toward Broth Hill, where
Valentine Hill's "seven Scots" had a small grant, extending
down to the "freshet" or mill-pond. Here lived John Hudson,
Edward Patterson, Henry Brown, James Oar and other Scotch-
men. Later James Smith acquired all this land. Still further
west, on the road to Lamprey River, now Newmarket, we come
to Denbow's Brook, near which lived Salathiel Denbow, or
Dinsmore, as later generations write their surname.

The land at the mouth of Oyster River, on the north side, was
granted to Valentine Hill, 5 May 1643, "land from a Creeke over
against Thomas Stephenson at Oyster River that hath an Island
in the mouth of it to the head of that Creeke in Royalls Cove,
to y* part of the North East of Mr. Roberts his marsh, reserving
to Mr. Roberts Marsh and twenty acres of Upland, all the rest
of that Neck we give to Mr. Hill & one hundred acres more up
in the country." The first grant included what is now known
as Tickle Point, where the boundary lines of Durham, Madbury
and Dover converge to a point. The place is called in old records
"Hills Neck." The second grant to Hill was at Wheelwright's
Pond, in what is now Lee.

The neck of land between the mouth of Oyster River and Roy-
all's Cove was acquired in part by John Meader by purchase




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HISTORY OF DURHAM



from Valentine Hill, 20 September 1660, and a part was a grant
to him and William Sheffield in 1656. On the northeast were
lands of Thomas Leighton. Here John Meader had a garrison
house and here lived several generations of the Meader family,
many of whom were Quakers. The adjoining Leighton farm
stretched toward what is now called Atkinson's Hill, from the
top of which is gained one of the most beautiful views in New
England.




Bunker Garrison



Valentine Hill conveyed the rest of his land on the north side
of Oyster River and next west of Meader 's land, sixty acres, to
John Davis of Haverhill, Mass., 14 August 1654, "beginning at
the mouth of a creek and extending west southwest to Stoney
Brook Cove." The cellar of his garrison house that his son,
Col. James Davis, successfully defended in 1694 is easily found
close to the west side of a little creek and on elevated ground.
The family burial ground is in the field near by.

Next west of John Davis was a grant of forty acres, made to
Matthew Williams, who sold it to Joseph Smith, 14 September




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64 HISTORY OF DURHAM

1660. On the 31st of the 7th month, 1660, there were "given
and granted unto Joseph Smith his heirs and assigns one small
parcel of wast land on the north side of Oyster River for a house
lot, provided it intrench not upon anie former grant, which sayd
land lyeth Between the lott of Matthew Willyames and the lot
of Wm Willyames Juner." In 1693 he had a grant of ten acres
more adjoining his land on the northwest.

WilUam Williams, junior, had his grant of twenty acres 10
August 1653, beginning at the mouth of a creek below Oyster
Point. It is now known as Bunker's Creek. Oyster Point lies
between the west side of this creek and the river. Here and on
the opposite side of the river were the oyster beds that gave name
to the river and plantation. Oysters may be found here at the
present time.

The land between Bunker's Creek and Johnson's Creek was
granted 10 August 1653, to James Bunker and William Follett
and later it all came into the possession of the Bunker family,
containing 236 acres. The remains of the old Bunker garrison
on the hill west of Bunker's Creek are sadly visible. It is a
shame to let such a historic landmark go to ruin.

Johnson's Creek was so named from Thomas Johnson, who
sold a lot on Dover Neck to William Pomfret in 1639. He had a
grant of one hundred acres of upland next to Philip Chesley's
land. Ambrose Gibbons had permission to erect a saw mill at
the head of this creek in 1652. Johnson died intestate and left
no children, and his land was regranted to Stephen Jones in 1672,
and thereafter the lower portion of the creek was called Jones'
Creek. William Storey, or Storer, had one hundred and forty
acres on the east side of the creek, not fronting on the river, one
hundred acres of which were owned later by Joseph Jenkins,
neighbor to Nathaniel Lomax, Lamos or Lummis, and the rest
was bought by Abraham Clark.

Jones' garrison stood on the upper, or west side of the creek,
not far from the river. It was burned before 1732. The site of
the garrison is made known by a depression containing broken
bricks, pieces of pottery and of flint. It is about five or six rods
north of the road leading to "Piscataqua Bridge" and about ten
or twelve rods from the Chesley division line, on the plain below
the walled burial place of the Jones family. The present house
on the Jones farm was built about one hundred years ago. The



HISTORY OF DURHAM 65

farm is now owned by Dr. Alice Chesley of Exeter, whose mother
was Harriet Dustin Jones, wife of Lafayette Chesley.

Next west of Jones and between him and William Beard's
land was the home land of Philip Chesley. He had a grant of
twenty acres near Cochecho in 1644 and still earlier he had a
house lot of three and a half acres on Dover neck, which he sold
to Thomas Leigh ton. No evidence has been found that he ever
lived at Lubberland, as some have asserted. He had a condi-
tional grant in Exeter at an early date but never fulfilled the
conditions. In 1664 he deeded to his son, Philip, the "neck of
land" whereon he lived, excepting the half already given to son,
Thomas. April 23, 1675, there were "laid out to Thomas Ches-
ley ten acres of land bought of the Towne at the head of his
fathers land upon y® neck on y^ north side of y® highway on y®
west side of his brothers land joining to his brothers land on the
west side and runs in length forty eight rods and y® lines run
thirty five rods east and west." The following mutilated record
is found in the Dover Town-book: "Laid out unto Philip Chesle)'
Jr. . . . at the head of his fathers land upon
joins unto Walt Jaxons land ... in breadth ye line runs
east and . . . laid out and bounded by us this . . ."
All of which goes to show that Philip Chesley had a "neck of
land" between land of Stephen Jones and land of Walter Jack-
son, reaching down to Oyster River. Here was the old Chesley
garrison about half way between the Dover road and that to
Pascataqua Bridge, twenty rods west from the Jones division
wall, on a little elevation in the field of Mr. Daniel Chesley. A
door-stone with the name of Alpheus Chesley upon it was taken
from this place. The old Chesley burial place is north of this
spot, on more elevated land and joining to the westerly side of a
stonewall.

Beard's Creek is so called from William Beard, who, as we
have seen, sold land near the mouth of Oyster River to Francis
Matthews in 1640. His garrison house was east of the creek on
the road to Dover. Here he was killed by Indians in 1675.
He sold a lot to three Scotchmen, which is thus described in the
town records:

Be it knowne unto all men By thcs Presence that I William Beard to geather
with my wife Elizabeth Beard dwling in the towne of Dover in the County of
Norfolke for and in consideration of three and Twinty pounds starling have
5



66 HISTORY OF DURHAM



Given granted Barganed and Soold A Sertayne Parsell of Upland and
Meadowe lying in Oyster Rever in the presinkes of Dover in the County of
Norfolkcll unto Robert Junkinge Edward narving and Henrey Browne to
them thear heires and asines Exequtores and Adminestratores to have and
to hold for Ever. The land y' Bounded by Consent of Evrey of thes parties A
Boveminshened the River lyinge on the won end of it about Este and West
the won sied of it Bounded by Thomas Johnsons land y lyinge near North
Est and south west the other seid of it is Bounded By the sayd William Beards
land and the aforesayd Robert Edward and henrey to have free Egres and
Regres therrowe my land toward the Common Witnes my hand and Seall the
9th I2th 1657.

the marke of William Beard.
Sealled and Delivered in the presence of Robert Burnum, the marke of
John Diuell, Joseph Smieth.

This lot was soon in the possession of Walter Jackson, another
Scotchman, who had a grant of twenty acres, in 1666, "at the
head of his one [own] lot betwixt the Cow path and the swamp."

Walter Jackson sold land to Robert Watson, 14 December
1668, and after Watson was killed by Indians and his widow,
Hannah, had married John Ambler they sold this land, 26 March
1703, to Philip Chesley. It measured twenty-seven and a half
rods on Oyster River and twenty-five rods on the other end,
which bordered on "the Cochecho path," bounded on one side
by Philip Chesley and on the other by Walter Jackson's land.

April 10 1675, William Beard and wife, Elizabeth, gave to
James Huckins "gratisly and freely" a tract of land near Beard's
Creek, adjoining land of John Woodman. There is a mutilated
record of a grant to James Huckins, without date, as follows:

James Huckins ten acre lott ... is layd out and bounded as fol-
loweth two . . . joining to y« north end of his whom lott ye south
brook which runs into y« freshet att y« head of y« creek and thence
n . . . and by west fifteen rods to a ash tree by y bridg marked with
I. H. and . . . y tree north north east by y high way y« comes from
Thomas Chesley ... it come to y« high way y goes to yo head of
Thomas Johnsons Creek . . . eastern corner of his whom lott y*
other eight acres begins att a tree in y^ angle of y<= high way and runs nor
nor east forty two rods by y^ high way that goes to Thomas Chesleys to a
tree marked with I. H. and from y» tree it runs east northeast forty rods to
a tree by y« brook marked with I. H. it runs down y« brook being y« east
north east side bound till it come to y« high way y goes toward y head of
Thomas Johnsons Creek.

The estate of William Beard was divided between his widow,
Elizabeth Beard, and Edward Leathers, whose family long lived
here. Edward Leathers sold, in 1697, land on the north side of



HISTORY OF DURHAM 67

Oyster River to Joseph Smith, and Smith sold the same to Jona-
than Chesley. In both deeds it was described as twenty-seven
and a half rods on the river and two hundred rods deep, next
northerly of Beard's Creek, extending to the brook on which was
Huckins' mill, with marsh on the west of Jackson's land. Jona-
than Chesley's old garrison house is probably the one now stand-
ing on the northerly side of the road to Madbury, a short distance
east and on the opposite side of the road from Dea. W. S.
Meserve's house. The date, 1716, has recently been found on one
of its interior timbers, but the house was probably built before
that date. The garrison of his brother, Capt. Samuel Chesley,
stood three or four rods east of Dea. Meserve's house.

The following may be of interest, copied from an old paper in
the possession of S. H. Shackford, Esq., of Boston:

Know all men by this presence that I Elizabeth Beard ot Oystariver in y«
towne of Dover in y< County of Dover & Pouchmoth doe make over my hole
Estat which I now poses in Oyster River y is to say my housing & lands two
oxsen too cous three hefers too calves too mears seven sheep six swine unto
Robert Burnuni of oystar River in y<= towne of Dover in y= County of Dover &
Porchmoth to improve or let out with my Consent for my uose & benefit in
wittncss whear of I have set to my hand & Scale in y» year of our Lord: 1676
& on y 13th day of ye 8: month Elizabeth Beard

Her E marke

Sined seld & Delivered
in y presenc of us witness

James Huckine

Edward Lethers

His E marke.

Beard's Creek is fed by a brook that ran through James Huck-
ins' land and hence is called Huckins' Brook. From the west
it is fed by Stoney Brook (the third brook of that name that we
have seen in our rambles about old Oyster River), and between
Stoney Brook and Beard's, or Woodman's Creek lay the old
estate of Capt. John Woodman, who bought land here of Ben-
jamin Matthews in 1663, having had in 1660 a grant of twenty
acres, "at the head of William Beard's creek." Here was a public
landing place, and south of it, on a commanding hill, may be seen
the ruins of Woodman's garrison house.

The tract of land lying between Beard's Creek and Valentine
Hill's grant of five hundred acres was originally owned by Wil-
liam Hilton, who had a grant here of eighty-eight acres from the
town of Dover and sold it, 7 July 1641, to Francis Matthews.



08 HISTORY OF DURHAM

The widow of Francis Matthews, with the consent of her son,
Benjamin, sold it to Valentine Hill, who conveyed it to Patrick
Jameson, ii May 1659. Jameson conveyed it to Thomas Mig-
hill, 29 July 1669, who with wife, Bethula, sold it to John Web-
ster of Newbury, Mass., 29 December 1670. John Webster and
wife, Anne, conveyed it to George Chesley, 16 October 1699.
At the request of his widow, Deliverance Chesley, and of James
Davis the land was rebounded, 21 May 1711, eighty-eight acres
on the north side of Oyster River, according to deed from William
Hilton to Francis Matthews:

Beginning at a point of land at the Creeks mouth next belo the falls on the
north side of Oyster River Running northward towards Jonathan Woodmans
and from the aforesd Poynt on the west side of the sd Creeks mouth it Runes
near west and be south by the River seventy two Rods to a fence now standing
between Land now in the possession of deliverance Chesle and an orchard in
the Possession of bartholomew Stephenson from thence it Runs nor west 2'
westerle six Rods and from that extent it Runes west and be south Twenty
nine Rods to the top of the hill on the south side of bartholomew stephensons
house from thence Leaving the s^ stephensons house on the north side and
the Landing Place and highway at the falls with the land joining to the saw
mill on the south side of this line and from that Extent it Runs west and be
south 4'westerle sixty one Rods to a stake set in the ground and from that



Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 6 of 34)