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Strafford, New Hampshire, USA
1882 - Strafford
Strafford was set off from the town of Barrington in 1820, Barrington at that time being twelve miles long and six and a half wide, the northern half constituting the town of Strafford. The surface is greatly diversified into mountain, hill and dale.
The Blue Hills, passing nearly through the center afford many grand and beautiful views to the lover of nature. Strafford has its share of the wild and grand scenery that so distinguishes the States of New Hampshire.
. . . There is, however a mica-mine near Parker's Mountain that has attracted much attention. It is situated on the road leading from Strafford Ridge to Barnstead. It is being worked with good results. Some of the finest specimens in the country are taken from it. Much of the soil in the southern part is remarkably good. Its wheat, corn, and grazing lands are among the best in the States. Its fruit is abundant and varied. Its winter fruit has a reputation surpassed by none.
Strafford is noted for its fine stock, the Durham taking the lead for beef and working oxen, the Jerseys and Devons for dairy purposes. Frequently steers at three years old measure seven feet and upwards.
There are only four roads extending through the town, in a northeasterly and southwesterly direction, nearly parallel to each other. The town is bounded on the east by Farmington and Rochester, on the south by Barrington, west by Northwood and on the north by Barnstead.
Bow Lake Reservoir is a beautiful sheet of water about two miles long and one and a half wide, some what in the form of a crescent. The Cocheco Company of Dover controls its waters, which are carried to the city by the Isinglass River. There are several other similar ponds of less note, among which are Willey's and Spruce Ponds.
About fifty years ago the dam at Bow Lake gave way and its waters went rushing and roaring for eighteen miles to Dover, doing much damage to their course. The county immediately replaced the dam by one of granite, it being now one of the most substantial ones in this part of the country.
There are four stores in town at the present time doing an excellent business, and much lumber if being manufactured and transported to the various markets in the vicinity.
Farmington, Rochester, Great Falls, Dover, and Pittsfield are excellent markets for our farming products. Strafford is essentially a farming town, but there has been erected at Bow Lake an extensive building, and machinery is being now put in for the manufacture of shoes. The population of Strafford in 1881 was seventeen hundred and seventy.
[description of 1882 brooks drying up in original document].
There are nineteen school districts, and money is voted for schools liberally besides what the law requires us to raise.
In 1826 a terrible fire burned on Parker's Mountain, and the fire frequently caught ahalf-mile from the burning mountain. Those living at that time say the scene by night was indescribably grand. The fire continued to burn about a month.
I am told by the older people that the first settlers raised but very little corn or what, and hardly any potatoes. About eighty years ago the yellow potatoes were introduced into town, and were grown almost exclusively for a long time. Wheat and corn began to be raised after they began to plow the ground. Rye on the burn was their main crop. Beans were raised in abundance, hence beanbroth was one of their principal dishes. Their not raising potatos or corn accounts for their small hogs. They ran in the woods, and seldom weighed over one hundred pounds. Sometimes they would get one up to one hundred and fifty pounds. That wa sa big hog for those days.
There are two secret societies of the order of the Patrons of Husbandry, both in a flourishing condition, having halls of their own, one located at Strafford Corner, the other at Bow Lake. There is one public-house, kept by John M. Whithouse, near the foot of the Blue Hills on the Crown Point road.
MANUFACTURING INTERESTS (excepts only, more in original document). There are seven mills where lumber is manufactured, four grist-mills, one cotton and wood carding mill, one barrel and shook manufactory, two carriage manufactores. There is in the vicinity of Bow Lake iron ore in considerable quantities, also plumbago.
... In laying off the lots, when they came to a pond, as Ayers' Pond, in the first range of lots they surveyed, numbered its acres and led the lot in course beyond it. So of Round Pond and Bow Pond. Bow Pond and commons numbered in the survey nine hundred and sixty acres. A man by the name of Thomas Parker drew lot 149, containing six hundred and forty-eight acres, which happened to fall on the top of a mountain; hence the name of Parker's Mountain. ... There are six rangers of one mile wide, the first commencing on the easerly side of the town. Then comes a range pond nearly north and south, four rods wide, there being five of these roads, the half-mile on the westerly side not being laid off into lots. There is a cross-road running nearly east and west not far from the centre four rods wide. On the north side of the road in the fourth range of lots, between 156 (Joshua Perce's7.20 acres) and 157, south of cross-roads, lies a parsonage lot.
I will not give a few of the number of lots, with the original owner's names and number of acres, commencing on the easterly side of the town, going up. I will give an exact duplicate of the original, which lies before me,
No. / Original Owner's Name / Acres
1. Henry Heis .......... 270
2. Thomas Hamet ..... 60
3. John Moore ...... 72
4. Francis Ran ...... 60
5. Benjamin Gambling .. 330
6. Eleazer Russell .... 96
7. Widow Hatch ... 60
8. Edward Cater ..... 240
9. William White .... 90
10. Nathaniel Rogers ... 360
11. James Libbey .... 120
Round Pond ...... (280 acres)
12. Samuel Allcock .... 210
The above is enough to show the transaction. There are two hundred and seventy-seven names, with number and acres attached, in the manuscript before me. .....
The story runs that John Foss, one of the original settlers, owned Bow Lake and sold it to JohN Caverly (4th), who sold it to the Cocheco Manufacturing Company, its present owners.
History of Rockingham and Strafford counties, New Hampshire
with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men compiled under the supervision of D. Hamilton Hurd.
Published 1882 by J. W. Lewis in Philadelphia
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