Charles Nelson Sinnett.

Richard Pinkham of old Dover, New Hampshire and his descendants East and West online

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Online LibraryCharles Nelson SinnettRichard Pinkham of old Dover, New Hampshire and his descendants East and West → online text (page 1 of 32)
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Rev. Charles Nelson Sinnett






Richard Pinkham, the ancestor of many families in New Eng-
land and the West, was at Dover Point, N. H., as early as 1640,
and no doubt arrived there at an earlier date. Of all the legends
in various branches of the family that he was accompanied by two
brothers who settled at other points in New Hampshire, that able
'^ historian, Rev. Dr. A. H. Quint of Dover, N. H., has well said,
\ "There is not a grain of historical evidence to support them."
I The writer of this book examined all these legends with care and
\ found them with strong points of difference in various branches
Vv of the Pinkham family, many of them asserting that this band of
»S^^ brothers came to America a hundred years after the ancestor Rich-
\ ard had landed here. The ancestor stands out as a figure
NN of clear and sturdy worth. The family traditions are quite unan-
N; imous in claiming that this ancestor, Richard Pinkham, came
3 from the Isle of Wight. This, however, has no historical proof.
\N^ If he came in the good ship James in 1633, he was evidently, like
<Oniost of her colonists, from the west coast of England.

It seems highly probable to all who have given this matter
earnest study that Richard Pinkham came with the famous col-
^ ony which Captain (Richard) Wiggins (Wiggans in the old
i records) brought from England in 1633. He has the same sturdy
characteristics of the other colonists, "many of whom bore names
which are famous in history. In 1631 this Captain Wiggins was
sent to what is now Dover Point, N. H., to superintend the affairs
of the colonists. In about a year he returned to England to se-
. cure ample means for carrying on the "plantation." "Meanwhile,
the merchants of Bristol, England, had sold out their interest in
these lands to Lords Say and Brooke, George Willys and William
^^ Whiting, who continued Wiggins in the agency. For the 'planta-
tion' a number of families were procured in the west of England,
'Some of whom were of good estates and of some account for re-
ligion.' Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts gives the following
description of the coming of these people to Salem, Mass., on Oct.
10, 1633: 'The good ship James, which was but eight weeks be-
tween Graveseiyi and Salem, brought Captain Wiggins and about
thirty, with one Mr. Leverich, a godly minister, for the Pascata-
quack (which Lord Say and Lord Brooke had purchased of the
Bristol men), and about forty for Virginia, and about twenty for
this place, and about sixty cattle." This was one of the most
God-fearing, sturdy bands of colonists which landed in America
after the coming of the Mayflower. This Captain Wiggins was at
the head of this colony for some seven years, "having the power
of Governor hereabouts."

On the 22d day of October, 1640, the people of Dover, N. H.,
established, or renewed, a formal government. The fourth name


signed on that wonderful document is tliat of Richard Pinkhame.
Rev. Dr. Quint designates this document as "Dover's Magna
Charta." He says: "It antedated in practice by a hundred and
thirty-six years the principles announced in the Declaration of
Independence of 1776. A copy of this paper was found in the
Public Record Office of London, England." Every Pinkham
should turn with deep interest to such a record as this.

The next mention of Richard Pinkham in the old Dover, N. H.,
records is equally interesting: "27th of the 9th month, 1648; It
is this day ordered by a publique Towne meeting that Richard
Pinkham shall beat the drum on the Lord's Day to give notice for
the time of meeting, and to sweepe the Meeting house, for the
which he shall be allowed six bushels of Indian corn for his pay
this yeare, and to be free from rates." It is evident that this re-
ligious sentry stood long at his carefully chosen post! "No sin-
ner could assert that he knew not that it was ye Lord's Day,
while the stirring drum beats were heard far and wide!" The
musical ability of this man is seen in many of his descendants.

Rev. Dr. Quint has given this clear statement: "Richard Pink-
ham appears to have been a man of good character, and had his
share of public offices. The spot where he early dwelt is said
to have been the same on which stood the Pinkham garrison,
which Richard afterwards made into his habitation. The precise
location of this is easily pointed out, inasmuch as it continued to
be a dwelling-house until one side of it fell down seven and
twenty years ago; that event rendered it necessary for the family
to remove, which they did as soon as possible, into a new house
standing about five rods from the old one. After passing the
house of Hanson Roberts on Dover Neck the traveler will notice a
lane on the west side of the road leading towards the river. On the
north side of this lane is a house now occupied by Elijah Pinkham,
a man of more than eighty years, who owns land once owned
by his ancestor, Richard." (Aft^r the death of this Elijah Pink-
ham in 1862, the house was occupied by Mr. Charles Thompson,
who married Rose Pinkham, daughter of Elijah. This old home-
stead was after this owned by those not of the Pinkham line for
a short time; it has lately been purchased by Mr. De Orville L.
Pinkham.) "About four rods west of this home of Elijah Pink-
ham was the Pinkham garrison house, half of which was taken
down about two years after the wind had demolished the other
half. The spot on which the fortress stood in the ancient days a
few months ago presented the aspect of a flourishing cabbage

Mr. John Scales, Esq., of Dover, N. H., writes under date of
Jan. 1, 1908: "The Pinkham garrison was about three-quarters
of a mile north of the site of the old First Meeting house on
Dover Neck; it was on the west side of the present road, which
was called High Street by the early settlers; the garrison was on
a street called Low Street, which x'an parallel with High Street,
and was about half-way between High Street and the Back River,
There is no picture of the garrison; it most resembled the Drew
garrison. This locality was in plain sight of the old church."

These particular descriptions of the site of the old Pinkham
homestead are given in the hope that many readers of this book


Will take pains to visit that beautiful spot which slopes gently
towards the Bellamy River, and conunands a fine view of that
stream, and of many other points of interest. I first visited this
plaee on an October day of rare l)eauty and shall ever keep in
mind the memories of the scenes of ancient days of sturdy valor
then called up; admiration of the wise choice of a "home spot" by
the first Richard IMnkham; memories of the old cemetery, near the
site of the First Cliurcii, whose headstones are gray and battered
by the storms wliich iiavo swe])t over them, but which have had
no power over the influence for good which has extended widely
over our country from tliese sturdy and true-hearted Pinkhams,
who have long slept beneath the gray sods. The calls on all the
Pinkhams who still dwell on historic Dover Neck left memories of
rare kindness and sunny cheer. Linked with these precious mem-
ories are those of the evening when, a little later on, before the
large gathering of the New Hampshire Club of Lynn, Mass., I
tried to tell the people of what they owed to Richard Pinkham
and his noble posterity.

It is well to mark some of the many strong points in the life
and character of the ancestor, Richard Pinkham, which have
been illustrated in his descendants through many generations.

First of all is the true Christian faith of this ancestor. It has
already been noted that the colony of which he, no doubt, was a
member, was chosen because the persons composing it "were of
some account for religion." This Implied a faith which would
sustain these men on the long voyage across the Atlantic, in the
midst of the many disappointments and dangers which awaited
them in a long procession on the "Pascataquack," and which would
not only sustain them, but impart itself by strong influence to
other colonists. Hence we find the name of Richard Pinkham on
that paper which advocates a belief in a God of justice and lib-
erty. He next stands before us at the door of the old First
Church in New Hampshire, beating the drum that called to ser-
vice in sunshine and storm. His broom of evergreen twigs swept
deftly the interior of that house of the Lord. His help for the
gifted minister who came on the good ship James with him, and
for others who followed, was clear and unwavering. His children
were all of this faithful Christian type. Some of these, and many
of the grandchildren and descendants of this ancestor, became
the leaders in the Friends' Church, which was organized at Dover
at an early date. A very large number of the Pinkhams have
been members of that church through all its generations. Others
of the Pinkhams have been faithful members of other churches.
These instances will be clearly noted in the course of this his-
tory. It would be hard to find a family that has in its history
so many devoted, humble and helpful Christians.

Some of the earlier Pinkhams were led to the Friends' Church
by the earnest preaching of the missionaries which the Quakers
sent to America. Others went thither because the Quakers bore
with such true Christian faith the bitter persecutions which were
heaped upon them. But their strong membership in that church
of the Friends had its deepest roots in the fact that the ancestor's
teaching had been, "Always follow where the Spirit of God and
Duty leads you!" It was this principle which had led the Pink-


ham ancestor from home scenes full of brightness and joy to
shores shadowed by shaggy forests and lurking Indian foes.
From the first Dover Point had unfolded to its explorers many dis-
appointments. "Martin Pring had sailed up the Piscataqua at an
early date. His narrative tells us what he met there: 'We found
goodly groves and woods, . . . sundry sorts of beasts. .
. But meeting no sassafras (which was then thought to be
the strong remedy for many diseases), we left these waters.'
In 1614 Capt. John Smith came up the river, but he also sailed
away and left the shores to their loneliness. In the spring of
1623, Edward Hilton, an English gentleman, and his brother,
William, established themselves on the neck of land now called
Dover Point, building there two houses, and beginning the first
permanent settlement in New Hampshire. But the disappoint-
ments which they met is clear from the fact that in 1630 there
were but three houses in all that part of the country." In her
fine article on "Old Dover, N. H.." in the Ncic England Magazine
for September, 1897, Caroline H. Garland thus writes and has well
said: "The first comers here expected to find unexhausted sup-
plies of silver and gold. In the first grants of land a certain pro-
portion of these is reserved to the crown for 'oares' found thereon.
When no gold appeared, the settlers tried the planting of vine-
yards, only to find that New Hampshire is not a grape-growing
country." Richard Pinkham and his neighbors met various dis-
appointments like these, but their faith, though it flickered now
and then in the strong gusts of adversity, never lost its glow.
One can well think that the wise Richard Pinkham counselled
again and again, "We came here at the call of duty; it was no
evil voice that urged us on; here we will remain; good will come
from this voyage which we have made!" And while some colon-
ists went back to England, the Pinkhams, with the Hiltons, Wal-
drons and many more, staid on Dover Neck.

Out of this faith naturally grew the counsel of Richard Pink-
ham to his children and others in his old age, "This home is on a
beautiful slope to the river, but do not forget the land from which
I came when Duty called me. If Duty shall beckon you, or here
or there, fail not to take your canoes at the bi'ink of yonder
stream, or to thread your way through the dark forests to the

Hence we find in all branches of the Pinkham family a heed to
this wise precept. Many sections of the family turned to Mame
from Dover Neck, or to inland towns of New Hampshire, etc.
They always chose beautiful sites for their homes; here they
loved to linger, but the call of Duty has been heeded so thoroughly
through the generations of this strong old family that they are
scattered all over our country from ocean to ocean. Today, in the
midst of broad prairies, or beautiful orange gi'oves, or by the
waves that are calling them to look well on the ocean that has
yielded them much wealth, many are planning a journey into the
midst of disappointments which they will meet as heroically as
their ancestor, Richard, met his cares on Dover Point, because
their belief is firm in God and His wise leading. Other Pink-
hams still abide on Dover Neck, and in other old home places,
where the fathers have dwelt, and no tales of gold and gain can


lure them away; the Duty that they heed is a hand that points
to the placid river, wliite-capped bay, or the sunny fields and

In this characteristic is traced one which has ever marked the
Pinkhani senorations — a wise survey of all the points in any
matter which has strongly appealed to them. "Slow, of choice,"
they have often been called. This has been frequently manifest
in their love stories. Hence we find many Pinkhams marrying
at no early date in life, and after courtships of many moons.
But the result has been the happy unions which have seen golden
weddinjis of rare joy. The slow choice of a life-work has been
marked by the same shining successes. In my native town we
were admonished, "Never bother a Pinkham when he is think-
ing." They were on their way to great spaces of light!

In my story, "The Easter Drum," which follows this sketch, I
have pointed out the keen wit which marked the Pinkham ances-
tor. This story is not moulded altogether on historical lines, but
is given as an illustration of what has been preserved in many
legends, and in the many generations of this sturdy old family.
This has never been a wit which has burst out in peals of laugh-
ter. It has been that which gave a merry twinkle to the eyes
of blue or gray, and the making of plans which have ended in
the foiling of wily purposes and foes of desperate type. Many
garrison houses on Dover Point were captured by the Indians,
though wise ones guarded them well. No savage foe ever swung
his tomahawk inside the garrison of Richard Pinkham. When
the winds assailed it after long yeai-s a half of its strong timbers
stood in place. The builder was as witty with tools as he was in
matching the plans of the Indians. In hundreds of towns all over
our broad land the Pinkham wit of the ancestral type has been
well known.

The ancestor was a man of learning and was constantly adding
to his stores of knowledge. Among his descendants this charac-
teristic has been clearly seen. In those who have given all their
time to study, teaching, etc., there has always been grand success.
On old farms and on ships that made their way to all parts of the
world, Pinkhams of quiet ways have been met whose stores of
knowledge have been a surprise as great as the joy and help
which they have given to all neighborhoods where they have
dwelt, or ports to which they have sailed. And this has ever
been given without any shadow of boasting, for the ti'ue Pinkham
has been like the ancestor of my story when the minister urged
him to speak, "I did only what I thought was my duty;" what-
ever they had they counted only as a trust to be used for the help-
ing of others.

And it is a source of deepest gratitude that, with such a will-
ingness to share with others, the Pinkhams have been given such
a numerous line of descendants with long life-leases. It was in
1671 that the ancestor, Richard Pinkham, gave the bulk of his
property to his son, John, who engaged to support him. He was
then an old man, and is supposed to have lived for some years
after that date. His sons lived to a good old age. Among the
descendants are many examples of this wonderful hardihood,
and not only in the Pinkhams, but in those about them whom


they seem often to have inspired to many fresh holds on life. A
Maine paper stated a few years ago: "There are about twenty
people in Maine who have reached the age of 100 years, and four
of these bear the name of Pinkham. Mrs. Emma Abbott Pink-
ham of Boothbay, Me., was 102 years old; T. D. Pinkham of
Harpswell, Me., is past 100; Mrs. Eliza A. Pinkham of Mill-
bridge, Me., celebrated her 101st birthday in January last; and
now Uncle Thomas Pinkham, 104 years old, has just moved from
Pittston to Gardiner, Me., and he has lately proved that he can
do about as much work as the younger folks."

The sturdy patriotism of Ancestor Richard Pinkham has been
well preserved among his descendants. Revolutionary and other
war records are not numerous in the annals of this family. This
is because of the adherence to the teaching of the Friends' Church,
of which so many of them were members; but there is deep truth
in the thought, "The prayers of a few Quakers are equal to a
battalion of soldiers!" The records of the Pinkhams who bore
arms for their country are of an exceedingly interesting char-
acter. Other strong characteristics of the Pinkham ancestor will
be noted by all who study these pages, and observe the men and
women who are so fortunate as to be of Pinkham descent.

(The following story was published in the New England Maga-
ziue for April, 1905. Many copies of this magazine were soon
bought by the members of the Pinkham family, who wished for
this sketch of their ancestor. The article is herewith reprinted
for the sake of the scores who were unable to secure a copy of the
magazine, and at the urgent request of those who had the story
and wished for more copies, and for all the members of the family
to have an opportunity of reading what seemed to well set forth
the characteristics of the first Richard Pinkham. The editor of
the New England Magazine kindly gave his permission for the use
of this story in this family history.)

By ChabI/ES N. Sinnett.

As Richard Pinkham passed under the great trees on Dover
Neck, a bright flash of sunshine fell upon his pathway. But when
he looked up he did not pause in his quiet, sturdy stride. There
was no peering to see what evergreen branch had yielded to the
strong touch of the wind, and let the dancing beams in among
the dusky shadows. His glance went straight to the patch of
blue sky above the treetops. His face quickly lost the faint
touch of surprise which had marked it. Then the blue eyes grew
darker and little twinkles of merriment challenged the sunbeams
which once more glinted on his way like signals which he would
do well to heed.

As he strode on, black eyes flashed messages across the ferns,
which began slowly to straighten themselves where the young
man's footsteps had touched them. The Indian on the right hand
side of the forest trail questioned with his glances.

"Is that the paleface whom you saw laud from the vessel at the
mouth of the Piscataqua not long ago?"


5 a













And the nod of the head on the other side of the path answered,
"The very same." And his query was, as his grasp tightened on
his tomahawk, "Did I not tell you aright that he was a youth on
whom we need to keep close watch?"

At this the black eyes which were interviewed flashed in har-
mony with the nodding head that slowly lifted itself from behind
the great hemlock.

Then the two Indians whispered excitedly together as Richard
Pinkham went on to see where he would improve the farm which
was to bear his name from that far old year.

"He is not so sturdy as many of the palefaces who come here."

"No. but he has a way of lifting up his face so that he can look
into the sky — and then he goes straight on."

"He does not talk so much as the others who came from over
the seas, you said?"

"No, when he speaks his words hit the mark! But he talks
best with the twinkles in his eyes, which are like the glints of
the sun on the clear waters of the Cocheco. I have watched him
when the other palefaces were busy with hot words, and one of
those looks stopped what might have been a bitter strife."

"Yet he does not seem to be proud of his thoughts and suc-

"Ah, no. He seems to look above, as we do when the Great
Spirit helps us in our hunting. Yet he will lead the people with
a strong hand."

"And he will push us from these, the hunting grounds of our
fathers, if we do not watch him with tomahawks well sharpened."

"Yes; but we will not let him twinkle us about as he does the

Then the countenances of the Indians grew hard with decision.
Richard Pinkham's steps and acts must not only be watched by
them, but by the keen eyes of many another l)rave. And tliis
compact was steadily adhered to by the red men up and down
the Cocheco and Piscataqua.

They had judged well of this stout-hearted colonist. Though
he was nnich younger than the majority of those who came from
England on the good ship Jamei<, he became a quiet and forceful
leader in some of the most important plans and enterprises in
those early days. His is the fourth name on that paper dated
the 22d of October, 1640, which has well been called Dover's
Magna Charta, and of which Rev. Dr. Quint has well said: "It
antedated in practice by a hundred and thirty-six years, the prin-
ciples announced in the Declaration of Independence in 1776."
The copy of thj.s paper in the Public Record Office of London,
England, gives his name with the quaint spelling of that day,
Richard Pinkhame.

In the plans for building the first church on Dover Neck he
had a wise and large part. He hewed more than one of the great
logs which went into its framework. In the old Dover records
stands that entry which sets forth the great value which the
colonists placed upon his faithfulness in the care of this impor-
tant building:

"27 of the 9th month, 1648.

"It is this day orderetl at a Publique Towne Meeting that


Ricliard Pinkham shall beat the drum on the Lord's Day to give
notice of the time of meeting, and to sweepe the meeting house,
for the which he shall be allowed six bushels of Indian corn for
his pay this yeare and to be free from rates."

Now, when the watching Indians saw Richard Pinkham go to
the meeting-house with his, to them, mysterious drum, and when
they heard its sturdy, solemn call sound far and wide, so that
"no sinner might say he knew not it was the Lord's Day," their
eyes flashed with indignation and wonder.

The full meaning of the music they could not understand. But
they saw clearly that this call was more potent than all other mes-
sages ever given on Dover Neck. It was like the twinkles in the
blue eyes of Richard Pinkham which they had marked so well.

Men and women at once came to the doors of their log houses
and then made ready to go where the drumbeats summoned them.
Children needed to be told but once of the mission of the faithful
sentinel at the door of the meeting-house. Long before the time
for service arrived, the rough benches in the church were occu-
pied, and a little time later there was but scanty standing room
left. The faint smoke curling above the settlers' houses told
plainly that there was no one there to stir the fires.

Just what the people did in that quaint service the Indians
could not tell. But it was clear that thither the people would
continue to flock on the morning of every seventh day. It was
plain to see that a happier and sturdier look was on the faces
of these worshippers when they went homeward. They walked
closer together. The call of the drum was helping to mould the
people in strength and integrity, of which Richard Pinkham was
a stronger inspiration than even the minister of learned ways.

The Indians marked well that, in their homeward walks, the
worshippers glanced often at the woods and rivers. The word

Online LibraryCharles Nelson SinnettRichard Pinkham of old Dover, New Hampshire and his descendants East and West → online text (page 1 of 32)