Benjamin Chase.

History of old Chester [N. H.] from 1719 to 1869 online

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street to see on what condition he would dissolve the con-
nection, and also confer with the disaffected members.
They reported at the adjournment that Mr. Bradstreet's



170 HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

terms were to pay the loss which he should experience in
the sale of his real estate and the depreciation on his
salary, which he supposed would amount to three thousand
and eight hundred dollars. The committee thought few of
the disaffected persons would willingly be members of the
parish. Therefore they reported against a dissolution.
Report accepted.

January 19 was the famous cold Friday. The day
before was warm for winter, but about 4 o'clock there
came up a squall and the wind blew a gale from the north-
w^est, which blew down a great deal of timber. Tlie house
in which the writer now lives was moved on its foundation
80 that the north corner went to the bottom of the cellar.
Stephen Chase's diary says, " Has not been so cold for forty
years by three degrees."

1812. The spotted fever prevailed in Londonderry,
which caused a great deal of alarm. A town-meeting was
held April 18.

" Voted, that in case of the appearance of the spotted
fever within tlie limits of the Town, the selectmen for the
time being be authorized to procure experienced medical
assistance at the expense of the Town."

It is not known that anybody in Chester had tlie disease
at that time.

June 18, war was declared against Great Britain.

November 16, the Presbyterian parish voted to hire the
Rev. Mr. Harlow for one year, and offered him two hun-
dred dollars, a house and twelve cords of wood. Mr.
Harlow supplied the desk three years.

1814. There was a petition presented to the legislature
by James Otterson and fifteen others, praying to liave a
part of Chester, part of Dunbarton and a part of Aliens-
town incorporated into a new town. There was an order
of notice. May 30 the town voted that it might be set off.

There were men drafted at three several times to go to
the defense of Portsmouth ; one detachment in the sum-
mer ; one draft was made August 26, for sixty days ;
another was made September 10, for ninety days. (See
Military History.)



HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER. 171

There was a town-meeting October 3. There was one
article to authorize the selectmen, in case more men were
called for, to hire them. Another article was to authorize
the selectmen to furnish any detachment with powder and
ball. Both were dismissed. It was voted that the town
pay each soldier drafted since March such sum as will
make up fourteen dollars per month, including what the
government paid. The government paid eight dollars per
month.

The dissatisfaction with Mr. Bradstreet continued and
increased. Several individuals, including several members
of the church, were taxed by the Presbyterian parish, and
attended meeting there, and refused to pay for the support
of Mr. Bradstreet. The parish held several meetings, and
chose a committee to confer with Mr. Bradstreet and with
the disaffected members. The committee reported that
Mr. Bradstreet proposed that if on mature deliberation the
parish determined to dissolve the connection he would
leave their pecuniary matters to arbitration. The delin-
quent members were willing to belong to the parish if Mr.
Bradstreet were dismissed. The committee reported
against a dissolution, and against the collector making dis-
tress on the delinquents.

December 29, a Moral Society was formed, to discounte-
nance profanity. Sabbath breaking and intemperance. It
was on the moderate drinking basis. (See History of the
Temperance Reform.)

1815. The treaty of peace was signed at Ghent, Decem-
ber 24, 1811. The news of peace came to Chester February
11. The President appointed April 13 as a day of public
Thanksgiving, the same day that was appointed by the
Governor as a day of fasting. The day was celebrated at
Chester. A procession was formed near Benjamin Brown's,
escorted by the Chester Light Infantry accompanied by
martial music, and marched to the meeting-house where
the Rev. Mr. Bradstreet delivered a discourse, which was
printed, from the text, Psalms 120 : 7, " I am for peace,"



172 HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

in which he recounted the causes of the war. The pro-
cession marched back and had a supper, toasts, etc.

September 23, there was a northeast storm. About
eleven o'clock the wind veered to the south and blew a
gale, blowing down buildings and uprooting large quantities
of timber.

At the June session of the General Court, 1815, there
was a petition of Jonathan Gillis, Isaac Hiise and John
Dwinnell, a committee in behalf of the town of Manches-
ter, presented, praying for the exclusive right of catching
alewiv'es in Cohas brook. There was an order of notice to
Chester, Londonderry, Bedford and Goffstown. I will re-
late the fate of the petition as related to me several years
since by John Lane, Esq., who was the member from Can-
dia at the time. ^Mr. Huse, who had the petition in charge,
engaged some member who proved to be a wag to advo-
cate his cause when it came up. The gentlemen referred
the House to the member from Bedford (Mr. Chandler, I
think) as a specimen of the Bedford people, large and
athletic, being brought up on chestnuts and acorns ; and as
a contrast referred to Mr. Huse (who was a small man) as
a specimen of Manchester people, who were brought up on
whortleberries and lamprey eels, and were a diminutive
race of men, not able to contend Avitli Bedford people, and
therefore ought to be protected. It created a laugh, and
the prayer of the petition was refused.

1816. At the annual meeting, March, 1815, John Bell,
John Folsom and B. Pike Chase were chosen a committee
to consider and point out in what way the business of the
town can be conducted so as to make a saving of time and
money to the town, and to report. At the annual meeting,
March, 1816, they reported, that for the three years past
the expense of transacting the town business had been six
hundred and nineteen dollars, or about two hundred and
six dollars per year. They proposed to divide the town
into three districts, and each selectman take the inventory
in one district ; have one assessor to make the taxes ; one



HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER. 173

overseer of the poor and treasurer. They make the fol-
lowing estimate of the expenses :

Selectmen's services, $50 00

Assessor's, 15 00

Overseer of poor's, 15 00

Treasurer's, . . 15 00

Making in the Tvliole, $95 00

Tlie report was accepted. We cannot show precisely
what the saving was, but Joseph Blanchard charges as se-
lectman, sixty dollars and ninety-nine cents ; Benjamin
Fitts, thirty-five dollars and thirty-six cents ; Joseph Rob-
inson, twenty-eight dollars and tM'enty-four cents. Henry
Sweetserwas chosen overseer of the poor, and charges his
services and expenses of maintaining together, six hundred
and eighteen dollars. Stephen Chase was chosen treas-
urer, but was also collector and had no extra bill. It was
voted at this meeting that in the future two-thirds of the
town meetings be held at the East meeting-house, and the
other third at the West meeting-house.

The summer of 1816 was the coldest ever known by the
" oldest inhabitant ; " it was also very dry. I give a few
extracts from a diary kept at the time : " May 15, froze
hard enough in plowed land to bear a man ; June 6, snow
squalls ; June 8, a squall of snow ; June 10, frost last
night ; June 11, a heavy frost last night ; killed a great
deal of corn, — some of it entirely dead, and five-sixths of
the apples killed. The 5th of June the thermometer was
88° ; the 6th, at 40° ; the 9th, at 37°. June 22, ice in James
Wason's tan-yard ; July 10, frost in low land ; August 22,
frost last night which killed a great deal of corn and pota-
toes ; August 20, a squall of rain, but snow on the moun-
tains at Goffstown."

It was so cold and dry that corn did not grow to ripen,
and was killed early, so that very little was raised. Abra-
ham Sargent, Jr., had removed from Handolph, Vt., on to
his father's farm, and brought with him a very early
kind of corn. He raised a crop of tolerably sound corn
which he sold the next spring for four dollars per bushel



174 HISTORY OP THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

for seed, and it was a great favor to the farmers to
obtain it at that price. There was a very short crop of hay.
Wheat and rye were extremely good.

In consequence of the shortness of crops, stock was very
low. My father sold a pair of four-years-old cattle for
thirty-nine dollars.

The first elephant ever exhibited here was at Sweetser's
tavern. May 17 of this year.

The troubles in the Congregational parish about Mr. Brad-
street continued, and it seems that an ecclesiastical council
had been held that had recommended that if the pastor and
church could not live together in peace, the pastor should
ask a dismission, which he had not done-. The parish at their
annual meeting chose a committee, consisting of William
White, Peter Hall, Isaac Lane, Henry Sweetser, Rich'' Dear-
born, Jona. Emery, Stephen Hills, Perly Chase and Stephen
Clay, 3d," whose Duty it Shall be to take into Consideration
all applications which may in any way Concern the Prudential
affairs of the Parish not in any other way Provided for." A
long communication was made by Richard Haseltine, Nathan
Knowles, Benj. Haseltine, Ebenezer Townsend, Thomas
Sargeant, John Emerson and Benja. Hills, Jr., church
members. They complain that Mr. Bradstreet had not
complied with the result of the Council, and violated his
own engagements, and intimate that the church may be
driven to unpleasant measures. They say that if the par-
ish would join with the church in dismissing the pastor,
most, if not all, who had left would return and endeavor to
build up the parish, &c. At a meeting May 23, the parish
" voted not to dismiss Mr. Bradstreet."

After the Rev. William Harlow's term had expired, the
Presbyterian parish had three or four young men as candi-
dates for settlement, but would not agree to settle any of
them.

1817. The town did not realize the expected saving in
the expenses, especially in the support of the poor. They
voted to accept the accounts all but the charge of the over-
seer of the poor. The town chose Amos Kent, Stephen



HISTORY OF THE TOWN OP CHESTER. 175

Chase and John Folsom a committee to examine the ac-
counts and report the most eligible mode of supporting the
poor. The committee reported that the expense of sup-
porting the poor had been unnecessarily large ; and that
there were too many officers, and recommended to have one
selectman oversee the poor, another be treasurer, and
another take care of the roads, &c. William Graham was
chosen treasurer, Moses Haselton, overseer of the poor,
and Jesse J. Underhill to superintend the highways. The
selectmen's services were about fifty dollars each, and
twenty dollars extra for overseeing the poor.

At a town meeting April 28, the selectmen were directed
to prosecute all persons who may be guilty of a breach of
the laws respecting retailing spirituous liquors. Retailers
were not permitted by law to sell in less quantities than one
pint, and that not to be drank on the premises. The law
was entirely disijegarded and liquor dealt out to tipplers by
most of the retailers.

It was voted, that a sum be raised equal to one-half that
shall be raised by subscription, for the encouragement of
erecting a court-house here in the event of the courts of
law being removed from Portsmouth. John Folsom, John
Bell, Daniel French, Joseph Blanchard and Charles Goss
were chosen a committee to wait on the honorable commit-
tee to locate the county buildings. John Folsom was
chosen agent to attend the legislature on the subject of
removing the courts.

The difficulties about Mr. Brad street continued. At a
parish meeting a committee, consisting of Isaac Lane,
Richard Dearborn, Noah Weeks, Samuel Shackford, Perly
Chase, Peter Hall, Henry Sweetser, Abraham Sargeant and
Jonathan Emery, was chosen to confer with the Rev. Mr.
Bradstreet. They made a report at an adjournment, which
was accepted. Five hundred dollars were borrowed from
the parish fund and paid to Mr. Bradstreet, and the con-
tract was ended.

In the fall of 1816, the Presbyterian committee procured
the Rev. Clement Parker, a middle-aged man with a family,



176 HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

as a candidate for settlement. The last day of December
there was a parish meeting which gave him a call and
offered him a salary of 8350 and 8100 settlement money.
Mr. Parker was ordained.

Oct. 16, there was a brigade muster near N. Head, Esq.'s,
at the upper end of the town. The town voted to give the
non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates, thirty-
four cents each.

1818. Stephen Chase, John Bell and John Folsom, who
had been chosen a committee to consider the expediency of
erecting or purchasing a work-house for the use of the
town, made report at the annual meeting that it was not
expedient, which was accepted.

At the June session of the General Court there was a
petition of Henry Moulton, and thirty others, inhabitants of
Dunbarton, presented, praying that a part of Dunbarton
and a part of Chester may be formed into a new town.
Order of notice on Chester and Dunl)arton. At the annual
meeting ]\rarch, 1819, the town gave their consent, but the
prayer was not granted.

In the Presbyterian tax and account book, in the hand-
writing of Joseph Blanchard, Esq., is a copy of a commu-
nication addressed to the wardens, stating that for a number
of years they had been members of the parish, but that the
causes that induced them to join no longer continued, and
asked not to be considered members. Dated March 4,
1818 ; signed Benjamin Eaton, Amos Kent, Benjamin
Fitts, Thomas Sargent, Benjamin Kittridge, Rufus Kit-
tridge, Lemuel "W. Blake, Nathan Knowles, 3d, Ezekiel
Blake, Joseph Robinson, Thomas Haselton, Joseph Long,
Benjamin Wilson, John Wilson, William Moor, James
Moor, Jr., Joseph Richardson, Jethro Sleeper, William
Walker and Nathan Knowles, Jr. There is also a frater-
nal answer by Joseph Blanchard, Nathaniel W. Linn, Sam-
uel Dinsmore, wardens. There is also a memorandum
stating that they had paid in four years 832-1.03.

At a meeting of the Congregational parish, May 4,



HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER. 177

" Voted, To try the Persons Singly as they stand on the
Petition to the wardens for admittance as members to join
the Parish.

" Benj" Kittrige, Amos Kent, John Wilson, Will™ Moore,
James Moore, Jr., Joseph Richardson, Cyrus Moore, Benj°
Eaton, Rufus Kittrige, John Emerson, Ezekiel Blake, Jo-
seph Robinson, Edward S. Hills, Nathan Knowles, 3d,
Benj'' Wilson, Thos. Sargeant, Jethro Sleeper, Nathan
Wilson, Joseph Long, Nathan Knowles, Jr.

" Voted, To Receive all of the above Persons as mem-
bers of the above Parish."

The Hon. Samuel Bell, Stephen Chase and Isaac Lane
were chosen a committee " to make a certificate for the
Rev*^ Nathan Bradstreet." A Mr. Jewett was employed to
preach.

1819. The Congregational parish voted to shingle and
repair the meeting-house, and chose Benjamin Eaton com-
mittee to do it. It was partly done by subscription. An
article to sell the ground for four floor pews in front of the
pews last built was referred, the committee reported, and
report was accepted.

The Rev. Clement Parker purchased the Paul Adams
place (where Andrew Craige had made the second settle-
ment at the Long Meadows), and being unable to meet the
payments, the parish voted to purchase it for a parsonage,
and Mr. Parker to allow rent equal to the interest of the
purchase money, 8^875.

May 28, Benjamin Pike Chase, James Wason and Rob-
ert Dinsmore were chosen ruling elders. The two first
were ordained.

1820. At the June session of the General Court,
Thomas W. Thompson and others petitioned to have a new
county formed out of the northerly part of the counties of
Rockingham and Hillsborough. At the annual town meet-
ing, 1820, the sense of the voters was taken : " Against the
subject matter, 157 ; for, 9." It was voted that no swine
be allowed to go at large in any part of the town.

The Congregational parish had voted to ofier the Rev.
12



178 HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

Joel R. Arnold five hundred dollars salary, and chose a

committee " to call on the persons belonging to the parish,

and see if they would unite in giving the Rev. Mr. Arnold

an Invitation to settle with us." The parish had had so

much trouble in getting rid of Mr. Bradstreet, they made

a proviso that if either party was dissatisfied they might end

the contract by giving six months' notice.

There was a parish meeting, February 19, 1820.

" Voted to adhere to the former vote, and confirm the
Call to the Rev. Mr. Arnold."

The parish appointed the second Wednesday of March

for the ordination.

1821. The mode of supporting the poor came up again,
and John Folsom, Esq., Capt. William Graham and Capt.
Samuel Aiken were chosen a committee to report upon the
subject at the next annual town meeting.

At the June session of the General Court, 1821, Samuel
Head and thirty-two others presented a petition, show-
ing that they lived from ten to sixteen miles from the
place of business and worship, &c. They pray that the
lands and inhabitants of that part of Chester north of a line
drawn from the northeast corner of Manchester to the
southwest corner of Candia, may be set off with a part of
Dunbarton, into a town. Order of notice to Chester and
Dunbarton.

Another petition was presented by Nathl. Head and
seventy-two others, inhabitants of the northwesterly part
of Chester, the easterly part of Dunbarton and the easterly
part of Goffstown, showing that they were from ten to six-
teen miles from places established for transacting town
business and holding public worship in said towns, <fec.
They pray that a portion of these towns may be incor-
porated into a town, &c. Order of notice to Chester,
Goffstown and Dunbarton, to be heard the first Tuesday of
the next session.

1822. At the annual meeting, March 12,

" Voted, that so much of the Town of Chester as lies



HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER. 1T9

Noi'tlierly & westerly of the following line : viz., Beginning
at a Stake & Stones at the South west corner of Candia,
thence S. 29 Deg. West to the south head line of Lot No. 94,
in the 4th division ; thence N. 70" West, across part of Lot
No, 94 & 95 to the S. W. corner of said No. 95 ; thence
Southerly on the Easterly line of lots No. 80, 71 & 60, to
the S. E. corner of said No. 60 ; thence strait to a Stake
and Stones, which is the Northeast corner of Manchester ;
be, set off & erected into a new Town, on condition that
they take their proportion of the paupers of said Chester,
pay their proportion of the debts Due by said Town, & re-
ceive their proportion of debts due the said Town."

This, with a portion of Dunbarton and GofiTstown, was
incorporated into a town by the name of Hooksett, July 2,
1822. Previous to this, the farthest inhabitants had to
travel more than seventeen miles to Chester two-thirds of
the time, to town meeting, and fourteen miles the other
third, to the Long Meadows.

A very able and elaborate report of the committee chosen
at the last annual meeting to take into consideration the
subject of a change in the mode of supporting the poor be-
longing to the town of Chester, was received and adopted.

At a meeting, April 2, the town voted to purchase a farm
for the poor. (See History of Pauperism.)

1824. There was an effort this year to have the courts
removed from Portsmouth to Exeter. The sense of the
voters in Chester was taken, and there were one hundred
seventy-eight in favor, and none against.

Upon a settlement with Hooksett, 8173.42 was paid in
full for all funds.

The Presbyterian parish chose Dr. Nathan Plummer and
Samuel Dinsmore ruling elders. They were ordained.

1825. There was an effort this year to have the sessions
of the courts removed from Exeter to Chester, and seven
hundred dollars were appropriated towards erecting a court-
house, provided the Legislature should by law direct the
holding the courts, or any of them, at Chester.

Tliere was a committee, consisting of John Folsom,



180 HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

Samuel D. Bell and Daniel French, chosen, and one hundred
dollars appropriated, " to aid persons in defining or regaining
their rights, who have been, or may be, taken undue advant-
age of." The reason of this measure was that there were
some men, of whom Rufus Wilson was the principal, who
would buy up demands against poor people, institute suits,
and by settling and taking notes for larger sums and then
suing again, greatly oppressed them, and endangered their
becoming paupers. Wilson was afterwards convicted of
forgery for erasing a clause from a mortgage deed, which
secured possession for a limited time to the mortgager, and
he forfeited his recognizance and left the State, which
broke up the gang.

A valuable large Bible for the desk had been donated by
Capt. Moses C. Pillsbury, then warden of the New Hamp-
sliire state prison, and a vote of thanks was passed by the
Presbyterian parish ; also a vote of thanks to Joseph
Blanchard, Esq., for the many services he had rendered
the parish. There was a meeting of the Presbyterian par-
ish July 13, when it was voted to dissolve the connection
between the Rev. Clement Parker and the parish on the
first day of March next.

1826. The law for dividing towns into school districts
required that the territory should be divided, but tlie
division heretofore had been of the inhabitants, and inhab-
itants had been changed from one district to another. At
the annual meeting, John Folsora, Josiah Chase and John
S. Brown were chosen a committee ''to survey the town,
and divide it into school districts." They divided the town
into eighteen districts, and their report was accepted.

Two hearses for funeral purposes were purchased this
year, for which $225 were paid. Previous to this the dead
had been carried on a bier on men's shoulders, to the grave.
They were sometimes, in case of deep snows, carried on a
sleigh. I have heard my grandfather say that he was one
to carry John Craig to Londonderry, a distance of at least
nine or ten miles. I helped, in 1817, to carry Lydia Dear-
born to Chester, four miles and a half.



HISTORY OF THE TOWN OP CHESTER. 181

. The Presbyterian parish hired E.ev. Abel Manning at
$300, and the use of the parsonage. He supplied the desk
until March, 1831.

There was a very long storm in August, injuring a great
deal of hay and grain, and then a very heavy southerly
rain, which caused a slide at the White Mountains.

1828. The bell was broken and a new one procured,
raised May 29.

1829. An act was passed, June, 1821, to establish a
literary fund by taxing the banks half of one per cent, of
their circulation or capital stock, to be invested for the
endowment of a college. By an act passed December 31,
1829, the fund was to be divided between the towns in pro-
portion to their State tax, for the support of common
schools. The selectmen of Chester received $107. At the
annual meeting it was

" Voted, that one-fourth part of the Literary Fund re-
ceived by this town from the State Treasury, be annually
distributed to the several school districts, in proportion to
their respective valuations, for the support of schools for
four years ensuing, and tliat the interest which shall have
accrued on said fund at the time of such annual distribu-
tion be distributed in the same manner."

A fire engine was purchased by individuals on Chester

street. At a town meeting, held July 21, it was

" Voted to adopt the first fourteen sections of ' an act
entitled an act deiiniug the powers and duties of firewards
in certain cases.' "

Firewards were chosen.

At the annual meeting of the Congregational parish
Samuel D. Bell, Jethro Sleeper and Samuel Aiken were
chosen a committee to report by-laws for the government
of this society at an adjourned meeting. At the adjourn-
ment, April 6, the committee reported a code containing
sixteen sections. The first was that any person subscrib-
ing his name to the parish book should become a member,
and liable to taxation. The fourteenth provided that any
person who should become a member before the first day



182 HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER.

of June, 1829, should be exempt from paying any higher
tax than one dollar on the poll, and in that proportion on



Online LibraryBenjamin ChaseHistory of old Chester [N. H.] from 1719 to 1869 → online text (page 15 of 60)