Windham Life and Times – April 30, 2015

Shadow Lake


Shadow Lake sits on the border of Salem and Windham NH

Shadow Lake sits on the border of Salem and Windham NH

I just came across this postcard of Shadow Lake and it reminded me that this beautiful pond often gets forgotten, even though it is located in both Windham and Salem. In fact, this view is mostly of the Windham shore. According to Gilbert’s History of Salem, “The name given is in accordance with the spelling employed for more than one hundred years, having derived from the name by which the Indians designated this really charming lake. It has lately been corrupted into ‘Hitatit’ and ‘Hit-Tit,’ without any reasonable justification so far as we can ascertain. More recently the name Shadow Lake has been applied to it, but the old name still holds sway…. (1907)

“It lies in a wooded hollow among high hills of the northwest part of town, at the angle with the Windham line. The highway follows the east shore for the entire length of the pond, affording one of the most beautiful drives in Salem (Old Route 111). Summer visitors have recently erected several cottages in the groves along the lakeside.”

“In years gone by, when the lake filled the entire valley and extended far beyond its present limits, the stream from the westward flowed through the lake near what then was its center; but as the waters receded, the higher part of the bed, toward the south, was the first to be left above the surface, this bringing the south end of the of the lake (or that shore nearer toward Canobie station), nearer and nearer to the entrance of the brook. It must be understood that this brook, then as now, flowed through the lake. Then a still farther recession of waters left the brook entirely outside the lake on the south, in the channel it had been wearing through so many years. Some of the oldest residents today, remember when this was the condition. But this barrier between brook and the lake was gradually worn away by the severe freshets of successive springs and they once more joined their waters. As is well known, the brook now just cuts the south end of the lake, then with augmentation there received, hurries eastward to join its sister streams.”


This became the old Route 111 in Salem NH

I’m just curious of the proof that it was an Indian name. I’m wondering why the original name would devolve from “Satchwell’s Pond” in the Haverhill Proprietors book back to an Indian name? Salem was laid out and settled in the 1650’s by residents of Haverhill MA. Theophilus Satchwell was a surveyor and early settler. According to Gilbert, “We recognize the name of one of the most prominent men of Haverhill, Theophilus Satchwell…While on his journeys through the forests beyond the Spicket he came upon a fair sheet of water hidden among the hills, which up to this time had been unknown to settlers. It received the name Satchwell’s Pond; but shortly after the land was laid out, and men became familiar with that part of town, it was found that there was another name. The Indians called it Hitty Titty; at least this is the spelling given by the settlers. The name Satchwell’s does not appear again…” Let’s see, a hidden pond takes on the exact name of a popular English hide and seek game. I know, I know, it’s an Indian name. In Fact, Canobie Lake went from Haverhill Pond to Polis’ pond (later Policy) which is an Indian name.


Hitty-titty in-doors,
Hitty-titty out;
You touch Hitty-titty,
And Hitty-titty will bite you.

     “These lines are said by children when one of them has hid herself. They then run away, and the one who is bitten (caught) becomes Hitty-titty, and hides in her turn.”

     The name of the pond was officially changed in March of 1913. “That the name of Hit Tit or Hitty Titty pond in the towns of Salem and Windham is hereby changed to, and the same shall be hereafter known and called Shadow Lake.” Approved March 14, 1913. Of course, you can understand the desire for a name change. Can you imagining the rollicking conversation on the porch of the summer cottages, that were built on the lake, late on a Sunday afternoon, after a beer or two, about why the lake was named Hitty Titty.

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