Benjamin Chase.

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

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each. In 1792, Eliphalet Hills was taxed for one-sixth.


There was a mill kept up until 1816, when Benjamin Hills,
Edward S. Hills and Joseph Long were taxed for one-third

French's corn-mill.

October 6, 1785, Benjamin French raised a corn-mill on
the same stream still farther up, nearly opposite where his
grandson, David French, now lives. Mr. French died Jan.
18, 1797. The mill was taxed to his widow several years,
and then to Sherburn Dearborn, who married her, down to
1820. Capt. Benjamin Currier and Gideon Currier once
had a corn-mill on the same stream, opposite where
Benaiah Spotford now lives.

ISAAC hills' wind-mill.

May 16, 1789, Isaac Hills, Esq., raised a wind-mill. He
fitted it with the usual oblique vanes, and could do some
business with it. But he conceived a plan of what he called
an " air-mill." He had an octagon tower with large win-
dows or doors in the several sides, to open on opposite
sides, according to the direction of the wind. The wind was
to pass through, and operate on a large float-wheel in the
inside. He first made a working model, and told to Mr-
David Clark how it operated. Mr. Clark shrewdly enquired
whether he put any corn in ; to which he replied in the
negative. Mr. Clark said that that would make quite a
ditference, which he found to be true, as it never proved
effective. The building was standing long within my rec-
ollection, and its foundation is yet to be seen.

ISAAC hills' corn-mill.

In 1805, Isaac Hills, Esq., built a corn-mill on the stream
below the Blake tan-yard.


Ebenezer Basford built a corn-mill with light stones to


operate by wind or by hand at pleasure. There was after-
ward a water-mill back northeast of the house.


The first Locke mill was on Exeter river, up near where
Charles Moore, Sen., formerly lived, not far from the road
from Wilbur's. It was probably built as early as 1780. It
was owned by Capt William Locke, Robert Wilson, Esq.,
Lt. William Moore, John Basford, and I think that Domin-
icus Prescott once owned a share. It was burned, by Mr.
Basford's leaving fire, March 27, 1796.

In 1810 John Locke and Benjamin True, Jr., built a saw-
mill further down the river, some eighty rods above True's
house. About 1820 Mr. Locke Iniilt a corn-mill on the op-
posite side of the stream. In 1847 it was rebuilt by John
and True T. Locke, and a shingle-mill added. It was after-
wards sold to John Wason, and was burnt in 1857.


In 1802 Nathan Knowles built three-eighths, Joseph
Brown a quarter, Nathan Knowles, Sen., Dominicus Pres-
cott, one-eighth each. New gears were built iu 1838, and
it was burnt in 1817.

Charles Stevens built a new one in 18.59.


James Towle and Pufus Sanborn built a belted saw-mill
on the North brook m 1848.

mcmurphy's or Webster's mill.

It seems by the following document, that there was an
idea that there was iron ore somewhere in the vicinity, and
that iron works might be erected on the Cohas.

Tbere was an act passed in 1719, the preamble of which
sets forth that there is very good iron mine or ore in New


Hampshire ; that the working of it was likely to prove of
great advantage, and tliat sundry gentlemen have already
advanced stock for setting up several furnaces, &c., and the
act forbids carrying any ore out of the province under a
penalty of ten pounds per ton. The British Parliament
would encourage the manufacture of iron in the Colonies
to be sent to Great Britain to be manufactured.

By a statute -of 23 of Geo. 11., it is provided that after
1750 no subsidy, or custom, should be paid on any bar-iron
imported from the Colonies into the port of London. The
act also prohibits the erection of any mill for rolling or
slitting iron, or any plating forge to work with a tilt-ham-
mer, or any furnace for making steel, under the penalty of
two hundred pounds ; that every such mill or furnace
should be deemed a nuisance, and the Gover;ior and Lieut.-
Governor were required to cause them to be abated.

So, though they might have made iron there, it would
have been unlawful to have slit it into shoe shapes or nail
rods, or converted it into steel ; and the Governor would
have been bound to have abated it as a nuisance.

May 16, 1739, there was a vote passed making a grant
to John McMurphy, of land and a mill privilege, at " Mas-
sabesic river," below the great pond, and a committee
consisting of Mr. John Calfe Lisin Jacob Sargent and Sam-
uel Emerson, were appointed to finish this matter. The
following is the report and agreement of this committee :

" The said Committee for and in behalf of the said Pro-
prietors, and as far as in them Lies, Persuant to a Vote of
the said Proprietors Pased at the said meeting in may
afforsaid, do by these Presents give, grant, Enfooff and Con-
firm unto the Said John macmurphy, his heirs and assigns,
for ever, free Liberty to Erect, Set up, and maintain a Grist
mill at massabesick River, at any place lie shall find most
convenient below the Create Pond, Provided, and on this
Condition that the Said macmurphy, his Heirs or assigns.
Shall Erect the said mill at the Place afforsaid, and fitt and
compleat the Same so far as to grind Corn for the use of
those that Shall bring it to the said mill to be ground, for
the Custemary Toll, within two years from the deate
hereof, — and the Said macmurphy Performe as is Expresed


in the third article ; and on faihire of performing the Said
mill as atforsaid, then the Priveledge to be forfited, and to
Return to the Said Proprietors, and their Successors for-
ever : and it is further agreed between the said Parties,
and the Said Committee do hereby on the })ehalf of the
said Proprietors Expresly Ihnit and Provide, that tlie Said
John macmurphy, his heirs or assigns, shall not build,
Erect, and Place the Said grist mill on the Stream or River
afforsaid so as to hinder, or be any Prejudice to the placing.
Building and Erecting Iron works, a Sawmill, or mills, in
Case the Stream will be sufficient for that Purpose, and
the Same can be done without any Prejudice to the Said
Grist mill ; and if the Said Proprietors Shall at any time
Hereafter see meeat, or think Proper that the Said Iron
works, Saw mill, or mills, or any of them. Should be built
and Placed on the Said River at the place affors'^, or near
theirunto, and Should Resolve to have the same done, but
that neither the said works. Sawmill, or mills, nor any
other building, shall hereafter be Erected on the Said
Stream so as to be any Prejudice, Inturruption or Incon-
veniance to the Going, maintaining and Support of the Said
Grist mill : and further, in Case the Said Proprietors shall
at any time hereafter Resolve to Build Iron Works in Case
a s'ficiancy of oare or Iron mine can be found conveniantly,
a Sawmill, or mills, or any of them, the Said macmurphy
and his heirs Shall have the Liberty, and the Same is here-
,by granted to him and them, to Erect, build, and maintain
the Said Iron Works, Sawmills, or mills. So Long as he and
they Shall see Cause ; and Whenever he or they shall see
Cause to Resign the said Priveledge, the Same shall Re-
turne to the Said Proprietors, and their Successors, and the
building and Labour of the said macmurphy or his heirs,
that he or they shall have done before such Resignation
shall Happen, Shall be Valued by the Selectmen of the
town of Chester affors*^ for the time then being, and What-
soever Sum the Said Selectmen shall Value the said Imild-
ings and Labour at, the Said Proprietors shall Pay or Cause
to be Paid, to the said macmurphy, his heirs or assigns, on
demand, after such Valuation Shall be made.

"Secondly, the Said committee. Pursuant to the said Vote,
do hereby Give and Grant to the Said macmurphy, his heirs
and assigns, fifty acres of Land at the falls of the said
River, to be Laid out on both sides the said River, Equally
to the out Lett of the said Pond, as near and as conveniant
for the accomodation of the said Grist mill, and other mills.


or mill, or Iron works, as aforesaid, as the Said Land can
be laid ; tlic same being Given and Granted by the said
Proprietors to the said macmnrphy and his heirs, for his
Incouragement towards Building the Said Grist mill ; and
in Consideration of the Grate Expence and Charge which
he must necesserely be at to accomplish the same within
the time Limeted herein, and the Said committee arc to
Proceed and Lay out the said fifty acres of Land in manner
afors'\ as soon as the Same can be Conveniently done, and
to make a Returne theirof by meets and Bounds, and Record
the Same on the Said Proprietors' Book of Records, or
Cause the same to be done as Soone as Laid out. More-
over the Said Comittee Shall Lay out to the Said macmnr-
phy and his heirs, at his or their Request, a Small Quantity
of Land at the Discretion of the Said Comittee, as shall be
Efectuall to Prevent any Person or Persons from Iregularly
and Clandestinely or unfairly drawing out the Water from
the Said Pond, to the Deturment of the said mill or mills,
or Works, as aforesaid ; and further, that the said mac-
murj)hy, his heirs or assigns, shall have at all times here-
after free and full libei'ty to flow and Raise tiie Wattcr in
the Said Pond, as he or they shall have need or occasion
for the Carrying on the work and buiseness of the Said
Grist mill, or Saw mill, or mills, or Iron Works, as afore-

" Thirdly, that the Said macmur])hy, in building the Said
mill, or mills, or any of the Works theirunto belonging,
Shall not Stop or Impede the course of the Fish up the
said River, but shall and will leave, and Contrive, and
make sufficient passage for that Purpose. Moreover, it is
further agreed by and Between the Said Parties that the
Said macmnrphy, his heirs and assigns, shall and will at
all times after the said Giist mill is fitted and Compleated
for Grinding, as aforesaid, Grind for the Proprietors and
Inhabitants of Chester aforesaid, and their Successors, be-
fore and in Prefference of their Grists, to the Grists of any
other Person or Persons Whatever, for three days in a week
forever (Viz.), Every tuesday, Wednesday & thursday, for-
ever, and the Comittee appoynted and chosen by the Pro-
prietors of Chester aforesaid, to Lay out the aforesaid Fifty
acres of Land at the falls of the afores*^ River, on both
sides, to the out Lett of the aforsaid pond, and the Small
Quantity of Land to Prevent the Iregular and Clandestine
or Unfaire drawing out the Water from the afforsaidPond,
to the damiage of the afforsaid mill, or mills, or Iron


Works, is mr. John Calfe, Ensign Jacob Sargent & Samuel
Emerson, of Chester afforsaid, alhvays Reserving a Lib-
erty and Priveledge to the Proprietors and- Inliabitents
of tlie town of Chester aflforsaid, to pass and Repass with-
out Interruption too and from the afforsaid massabeecek
River to Catch and take at the falls of said River, below
the afforsaid Pond, for nesecery famely Support, Such Fish
as may be obtained."

•The small quantity of land to prevent the unfair drawing
of water was laid out af the beach and valley, near where
the Island Pond House now stands, to prevent making
another outlet through the Long Pond.

In 1750 John McMurphy sold the mills and land to
Alexander McMurphy. The mill stood on the southeast
side of the stream, several rods above the present road and
above the present mill-pond, and had a low head of water
without flowing Massabesic ; and at a meeting of the pro-
prietors, October 18, 1763, it was

" Voted, not to support the flowing more than was

" Voted, that the privilege of grinding for the proprietors
of Chester three days in a week at macmurphy's mill at
Massabeeceek shall cease, and it shall l)ecome a common
priviledge for grinding as other mills are, upon condition
that the said macmurphy and his heirs shall forever keep,
maintain and support a Grist mill there, upon his and their
own charge."

When a saw-mill was first built, or the Haselton mill
below, is not known, and the traditions are vague and con-
tradictory. If Potter be right, in his History of Manches-
ter, that Alewife Falls, mentioned in the return of a road
laid out December 10, 1751, page 680, were at the Hasel-
ton mill, then that mill was built before that, and probably
McMurphy had none. But if Samuel Gamble be right,
that Alewife Falls were just below McMurphy's, and that
the waste water mentioned in the return was the natural
stream, and that there was a canal to carry the water to
the saw-mill, then McMurphy had dug a canal and built a
saw-mill before that date, and the Haselton mill is probably
of a later date. (See History of Roads.)


November 18, -1778, Alexander McMurphy sold for
£1800, additional lot No. 66, No. 23, 2d P., 2d D., and
the McMurphy grant, to Jolni Sheldon, together with
the saw-mill and grist-mill. So there was a saw-mill there
then .

March 11, 1782, Sheldon conveyed to John Webster, for
five hundred and seventy pounds in silver, at six shillings
and eight pence per ounce, the McMurphy grant, including
the house and mills. Webster Mug a new and better

His son, Israel Webster, next owned the mills. About
1810 he sold to James Patterson a privilege above the Mc-
Murphy mill, who built a saw-mill, and flowed Massabcsic,
and flooded Blanchard's mills, so that it entirely stopped
them. The water for a long time was above the base of
the great stone by the road, at the head of the pond.
Blanchard commenced an action, but the legal remedy
was slow, and four young men (Esquire Blanchard's neigh-
bors), having previously reconnoitercd the premises, went
one night and cut away the dam, which Avas a very haz-
ardous performance.

Patterson once owned the saw-mill below, but not the
grist-mill, and he failed, and the premises went back under
a mortgage. Mr. Webster's sons sold, and the mills are
now occupied by Gilman Clough. Nothing definite has
been learned about the Haselton mill. .


In 1751, Thomas Dearborn sold to six other persons,
among whom were Theophilus Sargent, Winthrop Sargent,
Sylvanus Smith, Ebenezer Dearborn and Thomas Wells,
Jr., three-quarters of an acre and a half of land for a mill
privilege at the south corner of lot No. 57, second part of
the second division. The corner of the lot stood just
below the north abutment of the bridge. They proceeded
to erect a saw-mill. Thomas Dearborn built one quarter,
the others an eighth each. We can hardly appreciate the


energy and enterprise of these men. There was no road
nearer than the main road at Emerson's Corner, two miles
distant, — Joseph Basford liad a settlement %Yhere Wells C.
Underhill now lives. The lumber, if drawn in the sum-
mer, must be done over a rocky path through the woods,
on one pair of wheels. None of them lived less than five
miles from the mill and must have gone that distance to do
all of the work. They built a small house for their accom-
modation just north of where the Borough road now goes.
In 1772, William White, administrator of Sylvanus Smith's
estate, sold James Graham " one-eighth of Dearborn's
saw-mill." The owners have been continually changing,
but the " turns " have been kept along uninterruptedly, it is
believed, ever since.

Several years previous to 1810 nothing was done with
the mill on account of a difficiilty about flowing ; but in
consequence of a vast amount of timber being blown down
by the wind, " Cold Friday," Jan. 19, 1810, new gears were
put in by Abner Blasdel, millwright, on the Hawkins
model. The frame was rebuilt in 1821, and an entire new
mill, with stone foundation, built in 1843, and a shingle-
mill added in 1860.

One-half of Lieut. Ebenezer Dearborn's share has re-
mained in the family of his son Stephen until the present
time. The other half remained with Ebenezer and Jon-
athan while they lived. Among the owners have been
James Wason, Jr., Stephen Lufkin, Joseph Carr, Joseph
Hill, B. P. Chase, Jonathan Emery, W. H. Underhill,
Joseph Chase, Jr., Jacob Chase, Noah Weeks and others.

hall's mill, now harwood's.

In 1771 Caleb Hall bought of John S. Dearborn a part
of lot No. 57, second part of second division, and erected a
grist-mill. He went to the Catamount mountain in Aliens-
town, for the stones, and worse-gritted stones could hardly
be found. The runner, with the date on it, is the door-step
at the shoe-shop, at Clarke's building in Auburn village.


It was a great undertaking to go up through Chester woods
and get them. They put up at what was then called the
" Red House," and afterwards Simeon Carr's. John Aiken
Jr., was the mill-wright. The mill was rebuilt about 1803,
and about that time conveyed to his son, Moses Hall ; and
afterwards re-couAcyed to Caleb Hall ; and in the settle-
ment of his estate, given to Elijah Hall.

In 1823 or '24, Capt. David Hall, Elijah Hall and Isaac
Hall built a saw-mill ; John Locke was mill-wright. The
grist-mill was rebuilt about the same time. The mills
passed into the hands of Rodney Allen, who rebuilt ; then
to Noah Clark ; and were burnt about 1845.

In 1853, Rament Preston purchased and built a grist-mill,
and he and his brothers, Nchemiah and Paschal, built a
saw-mill. The part belonging to Rament Preston was after-
wards purchased by Nathan K. Harwood.

In 1797, Samuel Haynes, a young man from Greenland,
purchased of Caleb Hall a privilege a few rods below the
grist-mill, and erected a fulling-mill and carried on cloth-
dressing. In 1802 or '3, he sold to Moses Hall, who did
something at cutting nails there. Mr. Haynes then pur-
chased the place now owned by Alfred Sanborn, and built
the house and a fulling-mill, and carried on the business
until 1807, when he sold to Charles S. Bagley ; and in
1809 Bagley sold to Moses Chase. Mr. Chase in 1810
put in a carding machine, the third probably in the State.
He sold the clothing department to Samuel D. Wason in
1812, and he, in 1814, sold to William Coult. Moses
Chase sold the carding department to B. P. Chase, and in
1816 he sold it to William Coult, who put in another card-
ing machine, and in 1820 it was burned. It was rebuilt,
and new machinery was put in, and sold to Jonas B. Bow-
man, who removed the machinery and took down the
building. In 1865 Joseph Dunlap of Goffstown, .a large
lumber and wood dealer, built a new saw-mill, with a cir-
cular saw, on the privilege.



At an adjourned meeting of the proprietors, Dec. 11,

" Voted, The land which the Lotlayers Laid out at the
Eequest of John Calfe for an amendment to two home
Lotts and a half held by him, which Transcript was Read
at the Last Proprietors' meeting, and Put to Vote for Con-
firmation and Past in the Negative, was Reconsidered and
Read at this meeting, and Put to Vote and Past in the

" William Haley, Ithemer Berry, Enoch Colby, Silvanus
Smith, moses Tiler, decents against the foregoing Vote."

This tract, containing eighty acres, lay from just above
the bridge crossing the mill-pond, above Auburn village,
up to the bend in the brook near Campbell's bridge.

At the same meeting it was " Voted that mr. John Calfe
have Liberty to build a fulling mill at massabeecek brook
between the two Ponds, agreeable to his own Proposals."

The fulling-mill was accordingly soon built, and stood
nearly opposite Nathan Griffin's barn.

At a meeting of the proprietors, June 20, 1759,

" Voted and Granted to Robert Calfe, Liberty to Erect
and build a Saw mill upon the Supposed Priveledge Granted
to his father, John Calfe, To Set up a fulling mill Be-
tween the two ponds at massabecek, and forEver to Injoy
the Same with the Lands Left on Each Side of Said River
for that use ; he, the Said Calfe, Procuring and allowing
Soficient Highways Towards Penicook, as may be needfull
Through his Lands ; and he Paying to the Proprietors forty
Pounds old tenor for the Same upon their Demand Within
one year from this time, and Support all Damages by

The saw-mill was probably soon built. There was cer-
tainly a fulling-mill and saw-mill there in 1771. The dam
flowed all of the meadow around the " Little Massabesic,"
and up towards Clarke's mill, on the Oswego brook.

Thomas Anderson, having purchased lot No. 107, and
the meadows in it, which were flowed, in May, 1772, com-
menced an action against Robert Calfe, and in May, 1773,


there was a verdict for the defendant. The plaintiff ap-
pealed to the Superior Court, and September, 1773, the
verdict for defendant, for costs, was £1 15s. 3d.

Dec. 11, 1764, Jesse McFarland sold to Thomas Shir-
ley fifteen acres at the north end of No. 123, the west side
of the brook, and reserved the privilege of building half a
mill. The mill probably was not built.

Oct. 15, 1770, Robert Kennedy sold to Samuel Shirley
(son of Thomas) fifteen acres, the west side of the brook,
and fifteen acres on the east side, with the buildings. Sam-
uel Shirley soon built a corn-mill on the east side. He
also bought a part, or all, of lot No. 115, in which " Little
Massabesic " and the meadows around it lie, and took a
more summary process than Mr. Anderson had done to
abate Calfe's flowage. He procured a ])arty of men, who
were probably well stimulated, and proceeded to cut away
Calfe's dam. Mr. Calfe prosecutqd tliem for a riot, and
Shirley became frightened, and to get out of it sold to Col.
John AVcbster. Col. Webster sold to Joseph Blanchard,
who had married Mr. Calfe's only daughter ; and Blanch-
ard deeded one-half to Calfe in 1777. The Calfe dam was
not rebuilt ; the fulling-mill was removed to the Shirley
privilege and the business was carried on there by Calfe
and Blanchard. Mr. Blanchard built a small house and
removed there. Mr. Calfe died in 1788, and Mr. Blanchard
carried on the clothing business until 1796, when the shop
was burned. Esq. Blanchard said that there was no fulling-
mill between there and Canada ; and that they had cloth
brought two hundred miles to be dressed. A saw-mill was
probably built on the west side of the stream, soon after
Blanchard purchased it.

In 1794, William J. and John Folsom came to Chester
and set up the manufacture of cut nails, which was carried
on by them until 1806, and by Joseph Blanchard, Esq.
until 1816. The nails were cut by water and headed by
hand. Esq. Blanchard, from August, 1815, to October,
1816, cut and carried to the state prison, to be headed by
the convicts, to the amount of $2,240.28. John Melvin


had a blacksmith shop with tilt-hammer and started mak-
ing scythes; but his foreman proving unskillful he soon
abandoned it. Mr. Folsom and Mr.. Melvin, having taken
a large contract on the Londonderry turnpike and the
bridge across the pond, left the mills in the fall of 1805.

In 1825, Samuel D. Wason purchased the mills and
rebuilt the saw-mill, and in doing some of the work in the
old nail-shop it took fire, and the shop and grist-mill were
burned. In 1826, Col. Wason built a new grist-mill with
two runs of stones. It was said by William Graham, Esq.,
who had the title of the mills from Col. Wason and settled
the bills, that he paid for seven barrels of New England
rum used that summer by Wason's family and help. In
1830 Graham put in an iron cob-cracker, the first in town.

In 1835, Jay T. Underbill and Flagg T. Underbill pur-
chased, and built an edge-tool shop with two spiral-vent
water-wheels (the first of the kind in this region), one to
drive a tilt-hammer and the other to do the grinding and
polishing. The tool business was carried on here by dif-
ferent individuals, — J. T. Underbill, P. T. Underbill, John
S. Brown, Nathaniel Brown and W. W. Leighton, under
diifferent firms until 1856, when J. S. Brown sold to John
Clarke, W. W. Leighton and Jacob Lufkin, and the tool
business was carried on by Leighton and Lufkin ; then by
Leighton alone. In 1863, the saw-mill was rebuilt. In
1865, the concern was sold to George G. Griffin, and the
edge-tool business ceased there.

Clark's saw-mill.

This mill was built in 1796, by Deacon William Wilson,
Samuel Crombie, and Caleb Hall. It was partially burned
twice, and about 1806 sold to John Clark, who repaired it,
and about 181-1 built a grist-mill. In 1832 the saw-mill

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