God according to their ideas of right. Ireland was not their home ; it
was endeared to them by no traditions, and they determined to find a bet-
ter home for themselves and their posterity in the wilds of America.
onies had been planted in America, and favorable reports had returned to
the Old World.
As early as 1627, the Antrim monthly meeting was organized by the
Presbyterians in Ireland, and as early as 1631 they planned an emigration
to New England, but did not carry it out. This was about the time there
was such a large influx of English Puritans into the towns of Ipswich,
Newbury, and surrounding towns in Massachusetts. Soon after this
they sent an agent to America, and selected a tract of land near the mouth
of the Merrimack River. They sailed from Loch Fergus, near Belfast, Sept.
9, 1636, for tlie Merrimack River. After sailing 2,500 miles, they encoun-
tered gales and tempests till the vessel was obliged to return, reaching its
starting-point Nov. 3, 1636. This shows that the Scotch had the laud
near the Merrimack in view long before the advent of our ancestors in
1719. Nor is this strange, considering that so large a class of English
were settling and had settled in that locality. This early enteri)rise prob-
ably led to the later settlement of Londonderry, N. II., in 171!t. A young
man by the name of Holmes gave a cheering report, and his father. Rev.
Mr. Holmes, Rev. William Boyd, Rev. William Cornwell, and Rev. James
McGregor, witli portions of their respective congregations, determined
upon a removal to America. Early in 1718 tliey sent Rev. William Boyd
with a petition to Governor Shute, of Massachusetts, to secure a place to
settle, and to make tl e necessary arrangements. This " Memorial to Gov-
ernor Shute " was signed by three hundred and nineteen men, of whom
I'KliMMlNAKV CIIAI'TEK. 23
nine were ministers, and tlirce others were firaduates of the University of
Scotland. The memorial is on parchment, in a fair state of preservation,
and a few months since was in the rooms of the New Hampshire Histor-
ical Society at Concord, N. H. Quite a number of the inhabitants of
Windham could there see the name of their emigrant ancestor. This bore
date of March 2G, 1718. Governor Sliute gave them encouragement to
settle, and Mr. Boyd was so favorably impressed with the country, that he
returned to Ireland with the cheerful tidings. A large numljer imme-
diately sold their property and made preparations to leave for the New
Worlil, where they arrived in live ships, Aug. 4, 1718, landing in Boston
Harbor. They separated into three parts. A portion of this company
remained in Boston, and formed the first Presbyterian church there, in
1727, under Rev. John Morehead. This is knovvn now- as the Federal-
street Church, — became Congregational in 1786; became Unitarian
under the celebrated I^r. Channing; and the present pastor is the Rev.
John-F.-W. Ware. Another portion repaired to Worcester, Mass. ; the
antipathy of the people was ferocious against them. Tliey formed a
church, and Edward Fitzgerald was their llrst pastor. They, like all of
their countrymen, were a liardy, thrifty people, but their English Congre-
gational ist neighbors were ignorant of thera and of their form of wor-
ship. They became jealous ; and from the fact that they came from Ire-
land, called them " Irish," and commenced a strong persecution of them.
When, in 173(! or 1740, the frame of their meeting-house was erected, the
Congregationalists rallied antl tore it down. Rev. William Johnston,
the first minister of Windham, was a successor of Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald,
and was there as early as 173G. The people were not permitted to build
a house of worship, and soon after 1740 dispersed, some to Otsego Co.,
N. Y., some to Coler^xine, Palmer, and Pelham, Mass., and Rev. William
Johnston came to Windham as early as 1742.
But the history of that portion of the emigrants in which we are most
interested, will now be given. On the eve of their departure from Ire-
land, their pastor, Rev. James McGregor, preached a sermon to them, re-
counting the reasons for their removal to America. They were " to avoid
oppression and cruel bondage; to shun persecution and designed ruin; to
withdraw from the communion of idolaters; to have an opportunity of
worshipping God according to the dictates of conscience and the rules of
his inspired Word." That portion of his flock to whom he had ministered
in Ireland, on their arrival in America, with others who joined them, wished
still to have the benefit of the labors of Mr. McGregor ; so sixteen of these
families embarked in a vessel for Casco Bay, in order to select a township,
while the remaining families retired into the country, some to Dracut, and
some to Andover. The emigrants for Casco Bay, now Portland, Maine,
having embarked late in the season, suffered severely during the winter,
and most of them passed the winter on board the ships. They suflered
for want of provisions, and the General Court of Massachusetts sent them
one hundred bushels of meal. They decided in the spring not to remain
in that locality, and returned, arriving at Haverhill, Mass., April 13, 1719.
They had heard of a large tract of unoccupied and ungranted land, called
the "Chestnut Country," because of the large number of chestnut trees.
This tract was afterwards called Nulfield. The men left their families in
Haverhill, went and examined the land, and decided to take there the grant
of land twelve miles square, granted them by Massa husetts. They built
H few temporary huts, and then returned to Haverhill for their families
and worldly possessions. When they returned to Nuttield, a portion came
by way of Dracut for the purpose of bringing with them the Rev. James
McGregor, who had passed the winter in the place teaching. The two
parties met at Horse Hill, being on the highway between Derry upper and
lower villages. They arrived there April 22, 1719, N. S.
The first sermon ever preached in Londonderry was delivered April 23.
They assembled under the spreading branches of a large oak on the east of
Tsienneto (pronounced Sho-neeto) Lake or Beaver Pond. The text was
24 HISTORY OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
Isaiah 32 : 2. "And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a
covert from the tempest ; as rivers of water in a dry place ; as the shadow
of a great rock in a weary land." " Then, for the tirst time, did this wil-
derness and solitary place, over which the savage tribes had for centuries
roamed, resound with the voice of prayer and praise, and echo to the
sound of the gospel." The Presbyterian church was soon after formed,
and in May, 1719, without installation, he became their pastor. Services
were held at Derry upper village, and there the people of Windham wor-
shipped till the incorporation of the town in 1742. In the ancient ceme-
tery, in the rear of the present church, on that high elevation which can be
seen for miles around, lie buried the founders of many WMndham families.
The lirst sixteen settlers of Londonderry, with their wives and families,
were James McKeen,.John Barnet, Archibald Clendennin, John Mitchell,
James Sturrett, James Anderson, Randall Alexander, James Gregg, James
Clark, James Nesmith, Allen Anderson, Robert Weir, John Morison,
Samuel Allison, Thomas Steele, and John Stuart. Of these sixteen men,
James McKeen, James Anderson, Randall Alexander, James Clark, James
Nesmith, and John Stuart, each was the ancestor of the Windham fami-
lies which bear their respective surnames. John Morison was the father
of Thomas and Ezekiel Morison, early residents of this town. Archibald
Clendennin has descendants in the person of Horace-B. Johnson, of this
place, the Clendennin family of Derry, and and the Steele family of Law-
rence, lately of Windham. Samuel Allison has numerous descendants in
town, bearing the names of Dow, Morrison, and Dinsmoor, and Robert
W^eir has descendants bearing the Park name. Allen Anderson left no
family, and James Gregg was ancestor of the Derry Greggs. Thomas
Steele has numerous descendants in Peterborough and Western New York.
T^ie homes in Ireland of the McKeen'*, Diusmoors, McGregors, and Nes-
miths, and many other families which settled in Windham and London-
derry, N. II., were in the valley of the river Bann, in or near the parishes
or towns of Kilrea, Coleraine, Ballywatick, Ballymoney, and Ballynoolen.
In Sept. 171!), five months after the first settlement, there were seventy
families, and in October there were one hundred and live families. So
rapidly had the settlement increased, that they soon wisht'd for town priv-
ileges, and petitioned the General Court of New Hampshire for an act of
incorporation, Sept. 1719. It was not till June 21, 1722, that " Nutfleld "
was incorporated as Londonderry. They purchased their land October
20, 1719, of John Wheelwright (see pp. 25 and 26). They were greatly
troubled to secure titles to their lands, Init finally succeeded. There is no
account of any Indian outrage to an inhabitant of Windham or London-
derry, save that of the boy who was killed on Golden Brook about 1721.
Probably no people who ever landed in America have been so much
misunderstood and misrepresented as the Scotch settlers of Windham,
Londonderry, and other places settled in ditlerent parts of the country,
by this same hardy, unconquerable race. Tlie ignorance and stupitlity of
other classes in relation to theui and their history, has been unl)ounded.
They were called "Irish," when not a drop of Irish blood fiowed in their
veins. They were called " Roman Catholics," when they had liated that
sect almost to ferocity ; when they had rolled back the papal forces, and
had endured the horrors of starvation, slied their blood in mountain fast-
nes.ses and on many l)attle-fleUls, to uphold tlie Protestant faith, and had
"ventured their allfor tlie Brltisli crown against the Irish papists."
This closes the notice of the ancestors of the first settlers of Windham
and Londonderry, and of the religious and accompanying causes which
drove them to America, with the brief notice of the emigrants themselves.
HISTORY OP WINDHAM IN NHW IIAMPSHIRH.
1 N iiii: Bi'.iiiNMNc;. — Corv <n .Idiin \Viii;i.i.\vi;i(;iit's ])i;i;i> to thk
J'Koi'iMinoKS. — TiiK Indians. — lis Sutatiox. j— Wild Animai.s.
— BntDs. — SxAKKs. — Akhokkai. ruoDiCTS. — Fi.oHA OK Windiia:\i.
— LOCAI.ITIKS. — SllU'ACK. — InDICATU)NS OF TIIK Gl.AriAI. I'kIMOD.
Thk first mention of that portion of the universe wliich is now
Windlmni is found in the last two words of the first verse of the
lirst chapter of Genesis — "the earth." Tlie first tln-ee Avords of
the same verse and chajjter tell us when it was created. In tlie
words of Holy Writ, it was " m the begluning'''' ; and fi-oni that
period, during the lights and shadows of many centuries, and
down to the year A. D. 1719, an almost unbroken silence and
impenetrable obscurity covers its history. Sjieculation may strive
to illumine this darkness, but its lights are uncertain and liable to
deceive. Its real history is unknown, and can only be deduced
The territory now comprising Windham was, from 171!» to
Feb. I'J, 1742, a portion of Londonderry, and was purchased by
the Proprietors of that town of John Wheelwright, whose grand-
father had, in 1(»'20,* purchased of the Indians.
COPY OF JOHN WHEELWRIGHT'S DEED TO THE PROPRIETORS.
These ])resents witnesseth, that I, John Wheelwright, of Wells,
in the County of Y(n-ke, in the Province of Massachusetts Uay,
* This refers to the famous Wheelwrijjht deed, which was considered
authentic till pronounced a fon/eri/. in June, 1S20, by Hun. James Savau'e,
of Boston, Mass.; and the same opinion was entertained Ijy John Farmer,
Esq., of Concord, N. H. Hon. Chandler E. Potter, wlio devoted much
time and research to this matter, pronouncetl the deed genuine. Whether
genuiue or spurious, it is a part of our history, and the deed was consid-
ered valid for al)out two hundred .vears. It is found upon the records in
the office of the re<ristei- of deeds at Kxi-ter, N. II. The ijrandson of John
Wheehvriulit cousidcrcd it valid, and under its autliority deeded London-
diTry to the Propi'ietors, as mentioned.
26 IirSTOHY OF WINDHAM I\ NEW 11 AMl'SHIHK.
do for nu^-y^vself, Heirs, Executors, Administrators, and Assigns,
by virtH'^ ' ''' Deed or Grant made to my Grandfather, a minister
of the Gosjx-i, and otliers named in said Grant, by Sundry Indian
Sagamores, with ye consent of ye whole tribe of Indians between
the Eivers Meremake and Pescutequa, to tliem and their Heirs for
ever full power for the laying out, bounding and Granting these
lands into suitable tracts for townships, unto such numbers of
People as- may from time to time offei- to settle and Improve the
same, which deed beareth date, May the seventeenth, one thou-
sand and six hundred twenty and nine. Executed, Acloiowledged,
and ap})roVed by the authority in the Day, as may at large more
fully appe';^-.'- Pursuant thereunto I Do, by these presents. Give
and Grant all my llight Title and Interest therein contained for
the ends, uses aforesaid, unto Mr. James McGregor, Samuel
Graves, David Cargill, James McKeen, James Gregg, and one
hundred more, mentioned in a list, to them and their Heirs for
ever, a certain tract of Land, bounded as followeth, not exceed-
ing the quantity of ten miles square : beginning at a pine tree
marked, which is the southwest corner of Chesheir, and running
to the northwest corner of said Cheshire, and from the north-
west corner, running upon a due west line unto the Eiver Meri-
mack, and down the River Merimack, untill it meets with the
line of Dunstable, and there turning eastward upon Dunstable
line, untill it meet with the line of Dracut, and continuing east-
ward upon Dracut Line, untill it meet with the line of Haverill,
and extending northward upon Haverill Line, untill it meet
with the line of Cheshire, and then turning westward upon the
said Line of Cheshire, unto the pine tree first mentioned, where
it began. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and
seal, this twentyeth Day of October, one thousand seven hundred
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered
in the Presence of '
Daniel Dupke, John Wiikici-wickhit, [i,. s.]
Sii.folk, ss. P.OSTON, ()ct(.l)er ye "idth, 1719.
John \\ licclw riglil, ]^]s(|., personnly appeai'ing, ackno\vlt'<lg('d
tlx' altove InstrMnient to be his volluntary acl^ and Deed.
Cor. WiMJAAi Wki>i,stui), Just. Peace.
,) ,. ) Entered and recorded in the 11th liook of the
1 rnyvuvvoi ^,^.^^ Records, Page 138-189, this 24th of
JMe\vhani])shire ( r\ ^ \ fK.
' ) October, 1/19.
Pr Saml. Pknii allow, Recorder.
The Indians who were the early inhabitants of this town were
of the Pawtucket nation, and may have derived Iheii' name from
ITS Sf riATIoN. 27
the rawtuckc't Falls at Lowfll, Mass., altout which *'c larger
part of their tribe reside*^ in their early liistory. T <'oinain
included all of New Hampshire.
Efforts were made to christianize the Indians at Pawtnckct
j)revious to IGo^, and it is not improhablc tliat the same Indians
wliose wigwams were on the banks of our ponds, and whose
canoes glided over our watei-s, taking fish therefrom, may liave
h'.'ard the (TOS|>el at Pawtucket (now Lowell), twelve miles away,
from the lips of the saintly Eliot, " tlie Ajjostle to the Indians."
He preached there in 1(1;');), ])reviously, and for many subsequent
years. The Indians congregated at the P^alls, as it was a good
place for fishing. Our Indians, confined to no perm.M nt places
of abode, of course visited these Falls, as the rushing of its
waters could be distinctly heard in Windham before they were,
in 1818-20, turned from their rocky l>ed for the Lowell factories.
The last great chief of this tribe was Passaconnaway. In IGOd,
at a great feast and dance, he warned his people, as a dying man,
not to quarrel with their English neighbors, as it would be the
means of their own destruction. To him, "coming events cast
their shadows before." Subsequently tlie head(juarters of this
tribe were at Concord ; they left this section as a residence
about 1685, but in their wanderings for fifty years after, spent
much time at the Falls. After the settlement by the London-
derry Colony, there is but one recorded instance of Indian
cruelty to a citizen of Londonderry, — that of killing the boy on
the banks of Golden P>rook, in what is now Windham.
In early days the Indians used to encamp on the shores of
Cobbett's and Policy Ponds, and many arrowheads have been
found as fliey were turned up by the plow near the shore. The
stones used for skinning animals have also been found. After the
settlement, wandering parties of Indians were occasionally in
Windham, but finally they retired to Canada, and this settlement
knew but little of them, and had but little intercourse with them.
Hardly a meme ito now exists to show us that such a race ever
It causes a thought of sadness when we think of the passing
away of a race. The wail of the red-man, as he looked for the
last time upon the graves of his kindred, and set his face towards
the sunset, which the poet has w^oven into familiar lines, touches
a responsive chord in all sympathetic breasts.
"I will go to inv tent and lie down in despair,
I will paint nie with black and sever nij- hair ;
I will sit on the shore when the liiirrieane blows,
And reveal to the God of the tempest luy woes.
I will weep for a season, on bitterness fed,
For my kindred are gone to the mounds of the dead."
The location of Windham is like that of a hub in a wheel, the
Merrimack River being tw^o thirds of the circumference. It is
28 niSTOKV OF WINDHAM IN \K\V IIAMrSHIRE.
boiiiuled on tlie iKirtli by Londoiidorry niul Devry, on the cast by
Salem, on the south by 8aleni and Felliain, and on tlie west by
Londonderry and Hudson. Manchester lies fifteen miles to the
noi'thwest, Nashua ten miles to the west, Haverhill twelve miles
to the east, Lawrence ten miles to the southeast, Lowell fourteen
miles south. It lies thirty-five miles northwest from Boston,
thirty-three miles southwest from Concord, and thirty south-
west of Exeter. It is situated in latitude about 42° 48' North,
and in longitude 5° 50' East from Washington. Area 15,744
acres, and not far from one seventh of its surface is covered
Gaoitake^* or Beaver River or Brooh^ is tlie ])riiicij»al stream.
It is the outlet of Tsienneto* (Shoneeto), or Beavei' Fond, in
Derry, and flows through Windham in nearly a southerly direc-
tion, emptying into the Merrimack River at Lowell. U))on this
I'iver is considerable good meadow land.
There are six ponds, or lakes more properly, wholly or par-
tially in the town. Policy (once called Haverhill Pond), tlie
largest, is on the eastern side of the town, and nearly one half
lies in Salem. It is two miles long, and covers 1,017 acres, and is
a beautiful sheet of water. The words of the poet Whittier,
when he christened Kenoza Lake, fitly -ipply to the beautiful
. . . "O'er IK) sweeter lake
Sliall moniiuii; break, or iiooii-cloiid sail ;
No lip:liter wave than thiiic shall take
The sunset's' goldeu veil." «,
CohbeU''s Pond has been found by measurement to be just two
miles in length. "The Narrows" are nearly equidistant from
either end, but are nearer the northeast end of the pond.
The pond attains its greatest width south of "the Narrcnvs."
This is the second in size, and covers 1,000 acres. Its situation
is beaut i fid. It lies in a valley, and the land on either side rises
into swelling hills, whose sides in places are tliickly covered with
wood, and in other parts the fields or jiastures of the well-culti-
vated farms in "the Rang^ " extend to the water's edge. Kev.
Thomas Cobl)ett, of I])swich, Mass., in 1662 had a farm bounding
u]»on it. It takes its name from him. The pond was a favorite
resort of the Indians for fishing, and many arrowheads have been
found in its vicinity.
HiitltiUi Po)id lies in the easterly ])art of the town, and is
jtai'tly in Salem.
Spruce J'o)id\\Q» in School I)isti-ict No. 7. It is a small jiond,
lying about one fourth of a mile west of the turn]>ike.
iilitrheWs Pond is in the northerly i)art of the town. It is
nearly surrounded witli woods, and is in a secluded place.
* Till' I iiiliaii iiaiiic.
Wll.h ANIMALS. 29
I*:iilif.s uflt'ii go tlicTL' fur jiu-kurL'!. 'JMk' |inii(l Iims a iiiiiddy
l)()tU)iii. It ck'iivc'S its naiiR' from tln' Loiuloiidi i ly family of
Mitchi'll, who owned land upon its borders.
Gohkti or (ioldliKjs Pond lies in the southerly part of the
town. It is a small pond, and eonneete<l with it is
Shnpsotis Pond, whieh furnishes the water-jiower foi- Simp-
Golden or (Toldiiif/s Brook empties in Golden Pond, and
comprises the stream which is the outlet of Cobhett's lV)nd.
Flatrock Brook lies in the north j)art of the town, and i)artly
F\s)i abouml in all the jxMids, and are much sought for. In
1878, Policy Pond was stocked with black bass by the State fish
The fish found in these ponds are the shiner, the pickerel, the
perch, the chub, the horned pout, and eel.
Bears were very common in the first settlements, and were the
most troublesome animals of the forest. In the months of August
and September they would make great havoc in the fields of coi-n.
Many farmers were obliged to watch their corn-fields l)y night.
Kobert Park, on the east side of the town, was watching in the
field one night, and fell into a doze ; he w^as startled by some-
thing about his head, aiul looking up he saw a large skunk looking
him in the face. ^Miile he went for his breakfast, an old bear
took advantage of his absence, and went into the corn-field and
took hi-^ l)reakfast.
Emigrant John Cochran set a heavily-loaded gun in the field,
with a cord attached to the trigger, the cord crossing a gap in the
wall securely fastened. A bear, in attempting to enter the field
at this place, discharged tlie gun and killed himself. When shot,
he leaped a distance of twelve feet, when he died. The most
westerly field of William D. Cochrairs farm is made historic by
About 180'J, three Ijears, an old one and two cubs, were killed
near the John A. M. Johnson farm.
About 1804, a large bear was discovered and chased into the
woods at the north side of Cobbett's Pond. Darkness coming on,
the chase w^as abandoned. The news that a bear Avas near sj)read
very rapidly, and the next morning, at break of day, John Coch-
ran, Abel and Kichard Dow, started to renew the chase. The
V)ear was found near where he was left the night ))revious. He
started off briskly on his last journey, in a northwesterly direc-
tion, followed closely by his pursuers, who increased rajiidly in
numbers. They followed him till he arrived at Beaver Brook,
which was ])artly open, and the bear plunged in and swam across.
His pursuers were not so fortunate as to ford the river, but went
30 HISTORY OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
around by tlie nearest bridge, and having struck the trail of the
bear once more, they followed it till the tracks came to an
end ; looking up, they discovered the bear among the branches
of a large pine tree in an open pasture. The pursuers were jubi-
lant. Deacon Fisher, of Londonderry, shot and killed the bear,
which weighed nearly four hundred pounds. The bear was
dressed, and divided among the large number of hunters, and
each received some three j)Ounds. The bear's skin, which was a
beautiful one, was sold to Samuel Armor, and from it a very fine
muff and tipjjct were made, which were used by Mrs. Armor for
nearly forty years.
In an old account book of 1813 or '14, is this record : "Robert
Dickey saw a bear."
Ensign John Morison, when a boy, while searching for his'
cows one night, heard a loud noise in the woods immediately back
of where the school-house in District No. 1 now stands. He
investigated, and saw a large black bear. The boy swung his hat
over his head, and gave a loud shout, when the bear left with
mighty leaps, causing the brambles and brush to crash and break
with a loud noise.
Wolves. — They were plenty, and were very annoying. In
1721, when the first settlements were made near the school-house
in District No. 5, wolves were not scarce. Mrs. Waugh, who