Windham Life and Times – January 1, 2020

The Shields Place. An abandoned farm in Windham NH. Baldwin Coolidge photograph. Courtesy of SPNEA

We often Don’t See the Change Engulfing Us Until it has Passed.

Often times, we don’t even realize the merciless change that is impacting us until we look back upon it from the distant future. The people in the photograph are sitting by the once productive Shield’s farm that was abandoned sixty years prior to their rediscovery of it in the 1880’s. The past owners just walked away, and nobody took their place. In New England at the turn of the Nineteenth century (1800’s) the industrial revolution and the opening of vast amounts of productive farmland in the Mid-west caused the exodus. Why stay eking out a living on a rugged New England farm, when opportunities beckoned from other places. People simply left. They left for better opportunities elsewhere. Morrison says, “A change commenced at the death of Parson Williams, Nov. 10, 1793, and the removal of the church, 1798, though the population remained nearly the same till 1824. The farms were not so well tilled; the farmers did not keep so many horses and cattle. A spirit of unrest seemed to brood over the people; they were waiting for a change and it came at last. About this time, rumors were afloat that a great city would be built at the falls of the Merrimac. This was at the commencement of what is now the city of Lowell, MA. Men from Windham were employed in the construction of the dam and canal, and earned considerable money. When those who remained at home saw how much more easily money was made there than by farming, they grew restless and dissatisfied, and soon all the younger men were gone…”  Argentina was the richest country in the world at the turn of the twentieth century. Soon after, as a result of revolution, populism and socialism, this prosperous country was changed into a perennial basket-case of hyper-inflation, poverty and dictatorship. Just like today, people and businesses are leaving places like California and New York. Why struggle with no hope, facing a declining quality of life and pay exorbitant taxes at the hands of autocratic state officials when there are better opportunities elsewhere? New Hampshire has in its most recent past had advantages that drew people here. Hopefully, we don’t lose what has made this state competitive and attractive to so many. 

Windham Life and Times – December 25, 2020

Boston & Maine Right of Ways in the 1920’s and 30’s. Windham Junction.

When Windham had Railroads

These interesting photographs show the railroad system in Windham just before the discontinuance of passenger rail service by the B&M Railroad in the 1930’s. If you’ve walked on the Windham rail trail you will recognize the top two photographs of Windham Junction. Below left is the station in West Windham which became Anderson Station. It was a originally a station house for the Nashua and Rochester Railroad, which crossed the Boston and Maine Railroad at Windham Junction. Bottom right is Canobie Lake Station. The nemesis that slew the railroads is pictured in the form of the automobile being used by the surveyor for the Boston and Maine Railroad.

Crossing of the B&M and former Nashua and Rochester Railroad
West Windham Station was renamed Anderson to prevent accidents caused by the”2″ Windham Stations
Canobie Lake Station on the Windham-Salem town line.

Windham Life and Times – December 18, 2020



Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn is shown with his sickle eating his child is the basis of the grim reaper. Notice how he appears more of a “fallen angel or watcher rather than a God. That is because he was a Watcher who brought forth the Titans, the Giants of old. Jupiter with eagle & lightning who overthrew Saturn. He represents the new age which will dawn at zero degree Aquarius on 12-21-2020. Their planet namesakes with meet to confront each other again in the night sky of 12-21-20. They are pole opposites in terms of their natures as reflected in the inversion of 12 and 21 in the date of the conjunction.

The Great Convergence of Jupiter and Saturn 122120

Well, to be honest, I’m always on the look out for bad juju and maleficent forces heading our way. It’s a bad habit I picked up when I was very young, when people like Hal Lindsey, and other fear mongering “pseudo-prophets” were running loose during the 1970’s saying the “End Times” were right around the corner. By now you have heard the buzz about “The Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter” on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2020. It is truly an incredible portent in the night sky which will have the appearance of Saturn and Jupiter merging as one. These two giant planets will be leaving Capricorn, the goat, the SNL Church Lady’s foil; the symbol for the Maleficent One himself and dawn in Aquarius. The conjunction will take place at 0 degree Aquarius. Is this the same dawning of Aquarius made famous by the Fifth Dimension in March of 1969? Maybe this is a good sign? “A common position expressed by many astrologers sees the Age of Aquarius as that time when humanity takes control of the Earth and its own destiny as its rightful heritage, with the destiny of humanity being the revelation of truth and the expansion of consciousness, (transhumanism?) and that some people will experience mental enlightenment in advance of others and therefore be recognized as the new leaders in the world.” Wikipedia. ( I wonder what will happen to the laggards?)

     This is the description from EarthSky.org: “Jupiter and Saturn are closing in on their great conjunction on the day of the solstice, December 21, 2020. At their closest, they’ll be only 0.1 degrees apart. They’re already amazing! Start watching them now. Astronomers use the word conjunction to describe meetings of planets and other objects on our sky’s dome. They use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest worlds in our solar system, mighty Jupiter and the glorious ringed planet Saturn. The next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be on the day of the solstice: December 21, 2020. Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years; the last one was in the year 2000. But these conjunctions aren’t all created equal. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! On December 21, 2020, Jupiter and Saturn will be only 0.1 degree apart. Some say the pair will look like an “elongated star” on that date.”

   “You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky,” Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, explained in a statement last month. There’s still another holiday connection at work here, beyond a simple coincidence of timing. Some astronomers, dating back to Johannes Kepler in the 17th century, have conjectured that the Star of Bethlehem that guided the three wise men to Jesus Christ’s birthplace in the Bible was a conjunction like the one set to appear later this month — although likely one involving different planets. Saturn and Jupiter began appearing close to each other this past summer, but this spectacle of proximity will be clearest beginning in mid-December. Look for them low in the southwest in the hour after sunset. And on December 21st, the two giant planets will appear just a tenth of a degree apart — that’s about the thickness of a dime held at arm’s length!” NASA explained earlier this month.” NPR.com

    “So Saturn (Cronus) in Greco-Roman mythology was the son of Uranus and Gaea. He lead his brothers and sisters, “the Titans,” in rebellion against their father who Saturn had castrated and killed. Saturn then became the king of the gods and married the Titan Rhea. Saturn was a ‘jealous god” and he especially feared and hated his children. In order to prevent them from doing what he had done to his own father, he ate his children as soon as they were born. Saturn (Cronos) is usually pictured with a sickle in his hand and often represents time and death.

     Astrological Saturn has always been associated with the law. “Gnostics have identified Saturn with the God of Early Scripture, whom they regarded as a tyrannical father, obsessed with rigid enforcement of the law. There is a symbolic link between Saturn…through the use of Saturday; Saturn’s Day…” Saturn’s function is contraction, which gives Saturn (called since ancient times “The Greater Malefic”) (causing or capable of causing harm or destruction, especially by supernatural means), a somewhat polarized role against Jupiter (called “The Greater Benefic”) (beneficent or kindly), in astrology. In Vedic astrology Saturn and Jupiter are considered natural neutrals, but under closer relations become enemies….Similarly, Saturn is considered cold (slow) and dry (separate) whereas Jupiter is considered warm (speedy) and moist (inclusive). Where there is light Saturn brings darkness, where there is heat Saturn brings cold, where there is joy Saturn brings sadness, where there is life Saturn brings death, where there is luck Saturn brings misfortune (and sometimes heavy consequences for bad judgment or mistakes), where there is unity Saturn brings isolation, where there is knowledge Saturn brings fear, where there is hope Saturn brings skepticism and stalling. However these effects are not always negative. Saturn’s properties of contraction and “crystallization” are said to create solidness in the world and give lasting form to everything physical and principle…”

     “In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove was the king of the gods, and the god of sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon. Saturn swallowed his children Neptune, Pluto, Ceres, Juno and Vesta. When Ops realized that she was pregnant with Jupiter, she had the baby secretly and moved to Crete, giving a stone wrapped in baby clothes to Saturn for him to eat. Saturn believed he had eaten Jupiter but Jupiter was saved. After Jupiter was raised by his mother, his destiny was to overthrow, Saturn, as revenge for all he had done to his brothers and sisters in the past. When Jupiter grew up, he made Saturn vomit up all of the children he had swallowed. All the brothers and sisters joined forces and overthrew Saturn. Then, with the help of the Cyclopes and the Hundred-handed Giants, they declared war on Saturn and the other Titans. Jupiter finally defeated the Titans and they were imprisoned in Tartarus. Jupiter and his brothers divided the universe into three parts, Jupiter obtaining the heavens, Neptune the sea and Pluto the underworld. This is how Jupiter became the king of the gods.” What will the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn portend for Earth? Probably nothing, but we’ll soon find out!

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/09/944560103/jupiter-and-saturn-will-be-together-again-for-the-holidays

Bustle.com The Great Conjunction

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronus

Windham Life and Times – December 11, 2020

The Border Dispute VI – The Haverhill Claims

    “The location of the Haverhill west boundary is quite perplexing as that of the Dracut north line. G.W. Chase in hist History of Haverhill (1861) devotes much space to the subject, but yet he does not locate the line with any definiteness. Edgar Gilbert in his History of Salem, (1907) on pages 37 and 51 makes it coincident with the old Londonderry line, of which the present boundary of Windham from the Derry line to Hitty Titty Pond is a part, although on page 117 of the same book he shows the Haverhill line as farther west than Londonderry, as it undoubtedly was.”

     “We are to remember, first, that this line was intended for and considered a north and south line, and second, that, as laid down on any modern map, it would run a number of degrees west of north. The General Court of 1640 granted the right for a plantation at Pentucket (Haverhill), but did not assign any bounds. Two years later the settlers procured from the Indians a deed to a tract extending eight miles west from Little River, six miles east from the same point, and six north….There is no definite record of the boundaries of the town being laid out until 1666, although as early as 1650 the General Court appointed a committee for the purpose and in 1660 the Court summoned the town ‘to shew a reason why they have marked bound trees at so great a distance from their towne vp Meremacke River, & also to give an account of the bounds of theire towne & upon what right they lay clajme to so long a tract of land.’ ” You have to give those settlers credit as you see the attitude of  “go big or go home,” on full display again!

     “In 1662, when the grant to Rev. Thomas Cobbet, of Ipswich, Mass., was surveyed, it was described (Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. 4, part 2, p.78) as being located to the westward ‘from a swampe that joynes upon the Hauerill bounds.’ This swamp is believed to be the low ground near the present Searles schoolhouse in this town. In 1669, when Rev. John Higginson, of Salem, Mass., had a grant laid out adjoining Mr. Cobbet’s (ibid., p. 441), a certain tree on the latter’s line was stated to be ‘the aunttient bound marke of Haurills perpendicular ljne.’ In the same description ‘a great pond, formerly called Hauerill Bound Pond’ (later known as Policy Pond and now Canobie Lake) is also mentioned in such a way as to leave no doubt that at some time previous to Mr. Cobbet’s grant the west line of Haverhill had been in some way fixed as to touch this pond and in all probability to cross a portion of it….However, the description of Mr. Higginson’s tract makes it clear that it lay between the pond and the Haverhill line as recognized at that date, 1669, so that we conclude that the line as fixed by the surveyors of 1666 ran wholly east of the pond, but probably not far from it.”

     “The interesting record (Higginson’s grant) is in part as follows” ‘The ffarme conteineth seven hundred acres or thereabouts, bounded vpon the east with Hauerill lyne, **** & bounded vpon the south by the land of Mr. Atkinson, to a great pond, formerly called Hauerill Bound pond, & is bounded with a heape of stones & trench at the southeast corner of the pond next to Mr. Atkinson; & is bounded by said pond vpon the west vntill it cometh cleare of the ponds east end, & then rangeth westward by the side of the sajd pond, to the land of Jerimiah Belchar on the west, vntill it comes to the land of Mr. Cobbet, there being **** a white oake tree, marked next to Mr. Cobbet, which white oake was the auntient (ancient) bound marke of Haurills perpendicular line, & thence raingeth east cleere of Mr. Cobbet, & bounded by upon Mr. Cobbets vpon the west, to a stooping white oak tree marked with T C & I H; from thence running northerly to a black oake tree, marked on the north side of a brook, commonly called the western most branch of the Spicket River; **** & from thence it rangeth easterly *** vntil it comes to the Hauerill ljne.’ “ W.S.H.

Windham Life and Times – December 4, 2020


Copy of deed from Sagamore Wehanownowit to John Wheelwright and others of Piscataqua and Boston, April 3, 1638, the original of which is at the Exeter Historical Society. What’s amazing is the English settlers and the Indians actually resided side by side for a number of years. The Selectman passed laws to protect Indian rights and fish weirs.
 

The Border Dispute – Indian Deeds (V)

   The English, being all about the “Rule of Law,” that benefited the English, felt the need to go through the farce of obtaining deeds from the Indians before they settled in the vast areas of New England. They wanted their title in writing, even if the title was spurious, given the fact that the Indians had no concept of private property. The Indian worldview was that no man could ever “own” the earth. While I’m poking fun here, it is also true that English private property rights have made America great. The common man was allowed to own his property in fee simple. This enabled ordinary people in America to thrive by giving them title to the land they labored to improve and on which they lived their lives. It also provided an asset they could pass on to their heirs and the financial means to resist government tyranny.

    This is the scrap of paper, signed by a local sachem which gives you title to your property in southern New Hampshire. And it is speculated, that the first Wheelwright deed, previous to this one, was a forgery. What you are looking at is the second Wheelwright deed. All the rights you have to the land under your house derives from this document. In other words, it is the first cause of your chain of title.

    According to the New Hampshire Historical Society: “When in November 1637 the Massachusetts General Court forced the Reverend John Wheelwright to leave Boston because of religious differences perceived by leading Puritans as a threat to their authority, he spent the winter, as he described it, “in deep snow in which he might have perished.” NHHS

 “The Antinomian Controversy, also known as the Free Grace Controversy, was a religious and political conflict in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. It pitted most of the colony’s ministers and magistrates against some adherents of the Free Grace theology of Puritan minister John Cotton. The most notable Free Grace advocates, often called “Antinomians”, were Anne Hutchinson, her brother-in-law Reverend John Wheelwright, and Massachusetts Bay Governor Henry Vane. The controversy was a theological debate concerning the ‘covenant of grace’ and ‘covenant of works.’ ” Wikipedia

By spring, he had chosen a location at what is today Exeter for a settlement where he and his followers would be free to practice their religious beliefs. There was no colonial government that could grant them the right to settle there, since the area’s original grantee, John Mason, died in 1635, leaving an heir too young to take charge and no provision for governing the colony. Instead, Wheelwright sought permission to settle from the native inhabitants of the area. On April 3, 1638, the local sagamore (or chief) signed two documents with his mark, deeding a 30-mile-square tract of land to Wheelwright and others, with the exception of the “ground w[hi]ch is broken up” (for planting) and the right to “hunt and fish and foul in the said limites.” (Note that a similar deed from natives to Wheelwright, dated nine years earlier, is generally believed to be fake, though it is known to have existed as early as 1707.) Wehanownowit was the leader of the local native people, known as the Piscataqua. The Puritan minister, Reverend John Wheelwright, emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, two years after his sister-in-law Anne Hutchinson followed John Cotton, her minister, to the same location. All three were from Lincolnshire, England, and shared religious beliefs that were questioned by more orthodox religious leaders in Massachusetts. When Wheelwright and Hutchinson were banished from Boston, friends and relatives who had followed them there from England were discouraged by new legislation from staying, and several went to Exeter as well.” Their heresy was belief in  “Free Grace Theology.” NHHS

    “Although neither of the 1638 deeds gives a location for its signing, it has been assumed that the transaction took place at or near Squamscot Falls at the site soon to become the new settlement. This spot at one of the headwaters of the Piscataqua, where the present-day Exeter River flows into the Squamscot, was a logical place to settle, with its potential for river transportation and trade and its ample water power, lumber, salmon, meadows, and salt marshes. In addition, this area appeared not to be under the control at that point of any larger governing entity. There were already scattered settlers in the area, but Wheelwright is considered the founder of what became Exeter because he established the first church and local government at its site.”  NHHS When it comes to Indian deeds, it is a little bit of “go big or go home.” In other words, since the Indians didn’t understand the concept of private property, get them to give you a grant of a huge amount land, thirty miles square, from the Merrimack to the Piscataqua, for a few items of use to them. The Scotch-Irish in the Londonderry area received their land grant from the descendants of Rev. Wheelwright. I’ve heard tell, that after the “Dark Winter” and “Great Reset,” nobody will be allowed to own private property and the earth will be held “in common,” for the benefit of all 6 billion inhabitants. Doesn’t sound like an Indian paradise but more like pure evil.

Windham Life and Times – November 27, 2020

The Border Dispute

The Royal Border Settlement 1740-1 (IV)

William Harris says that, “When Dunstable was chartered by Massachusetts in 1673, and the boundaries surveyed the next year, the northeast corner was a ‘pine tree marked F standing within sight of Beaver Brook.’ From the corner the line ran a little west of south to near Jeremy’s Hill in Pelham and on to the Merrimack River. This probably cut across what is now Windham.”

     “When Dracut was incorporated in February, 1701-2, its eastern boundary was described as running from a point on the Merrimack River ‘due north six miles,’ then by a northwest line, described as four miles long, it ‘closet to the Dunstable line” at the pine tree bound already mentioned, thence following the Dunstable line southward about four miles.”

    “This pine tree bound forming the Dunstable-Dracut corner is located by Kimball Webster in his history of Hudson (pp. 145,154) as being on the northward side of Beaver Brook about 112 rods down the brook from the present eastern point of Hudson, and a short distance above the spot where the Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad crosses the brook.”

    “In December, 1722, the Dracut selectman perambulated their north line across what had been eleven years before incorporated as Londonderry and which was destined about eight years later to become Windham. They evidently did not intend to give up their claim to a strip of land a mile and a half wide and four miles long, liberal measure, which their original bounds included, and which they would have retained if the king had decided to run the province line straight west from its beginning at the ocean.”

     “Morrison’s History of Windham does not mention the fact that the southern part of town formed uncontestably for a score of years (1702 to 1722) a portion of the territory of Dracut, and was claimed by them still longer. The Dracut line crossed some natural features which it is possible to identify, so that it can be quite accurately traced.”


The Tyng Mansion, built before 1675 by Colonel Jonathan Tyng, sat along the western banks of the Merrimack River.
 

The northeast corner of old Dracut does not appear to have been marked by any special feature, but it is stated by local historians that the present boundary between Dracut and Methuen is a part of the original line, so that by extending it and drawing this old north line of Dracut it is easy to see about where the corner must have been— near Spear Hill and not far west of the south end of Canobie Lake. In a petition of 1742, given in Edgar Gilbert’s History of Salem (p.98) this language is used: ‘So running by said pond (Policy) to the southwest part then by Dracut line,’ etc., indicating that Dracut line came near the end of the pond.”

     “The Dracut-Methuen line on any modern map runs a good many degrees west of ‘due north,’ and moreover it is much more than six miles to the supposed corner and it is more than four from there to the Dunstable-Dracut corner. The first fact is explained by supposing that the surveyors of those days ran by the compass needle without making any corrections for declination. There is a record of a survey in 1674, quoted in B. Chase’s History of Chester (p. 11) which says, ‘We ran due northwest according to the compass, not allowing any variations,’ etc. The magnetic declination at present is about 13 degrees west. What it was two hundred years ago I do not know, but all the old lines described as due north and south or east and west vary greatly from these positions when laid down on a modern map.”




Gunter’s Chain & Surveyor’s Compass. Courtesy of the New Hampshire Historical Society “Gunter’s chain was developed in 1620 and consisted of 100 links, each measuring 7.92 inches, for a total of 66 feet of measurement. The chain included brass rings at every 10 links to facilitate partial measurements. In practice, the chain is stretched out along a defined path and secured to the ground with steel pins. The measurement is then recorded and the process is repeated until the surveyor reaches the final endpoint.”

     “The overrunning of the measure was also a characteristic of the early surveys. Land being abundant and the surface uneven, they did not intend their measure to fall short. There is an intimation in the History of Chester (p.30) that it was customary to allow 11 chains for 10, and Rev. J.G. McMurphy in Early Londonderry Records (Vol. 2, p. XVII) says it was the practice when advancing the chain to place the pin forward as far as one could reach, thus gaining about six feet on every chain-length.”

     The record of the perambulation of the Dracut north line in December 1733, is found in the Dracut town records, (vol. 1, p. 285,) its significant features are that proceeding towards the northwest, the line crosses in succession ‘Goldings pond otherwise called Cobets pond,’ south of its outlet; ‘Goldings brook’ the outlet; ‘Drye pond,’ and ‘Tyngs meadow.’  The identification of the last two localities has been the result of considerable study.”

Windham Life and Times – November 20, 2020

The Border Dispute

The Royal Border Settlement 1740-1 III

       Haverhill, Methuen, Dracut and Dunstable were all Massachusetts towns who claimed that their border lines travelled into southern New Hampshire until declared otherwise by the crown in 1741. William Harris who wrote a local column in the Exeter Newsletter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries wrote  about the border dispute between Massachusetts and New Hampshire:

     “In April 1719, a company of people from the vicinity of Londonderry, Ireland, commenced a settlement called Nutfield, having its center at what is now East Derry. They described themselves in their petition for a charter as ‘being descended from and professing the Faith and Principles of the Establist Church of North Britain’—that is, Scotch Presbyterians. Incorporation was at first denied by both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as it was doubtful which province had jurisdiction.”

     “In October following, the settlers obtained title to their lands by deed from Col. John Wheelwright, of Wells, ME., whose grandfather, Rev. John Wheelwright, the founder of Exeter, was supposed to have purchased in 1629 from Passaconoway and other Indians chiefs a large tract of land between the Piscataqua and Merrimack Rivers. Colonel Wheelwright’s deed conveyed a tract not to exceeding ten miles square, bounded by the Merrimack River at the west and the lines of Dunstable, Dracut, Haverhill and Cheshire (Chester). The description reads as if the north boundary of Dracut met the west line of Haverhill but when Methuen was incorporated in 1725, it was made out of the western portion of Haverhill and a strip about one and a half miles wide of ‘country land’ of unincorporated land stretching north from the Merrimack River, between the limits of Haverhill and Dracut.”

     “June 21, 1722, the governor and court of New Hampshire gave a charter incorporating Nutfield as the town of Londonderry. Its boundaries began at the southeast corner of Chester (which town had been charted the moth previous) and ran definite distances in specified directions, not naming the Massachusetts towns of Haverhill, Dracut and Dunstable, merely providing that this grant should not annul any claim which the Province of Massachusetts Bay might have to any of the territory granted. It must have been known at the time that the boundaries as given, overlapped by a considerable space the limits claimed by all three towns. There was considerable controversy and litigation between Londonderry and Haverhill settlers over lands in the strip which both claimed, until 1740, the province boundary dispute was ended by the decision king that the line should be three miles north of the Merrimack River, which decision was effectual the next year by the actual running of the line, practically where it is now. A portion of the Londonderry grant would have indeed fallen within Massachusetts if the province line had been run straight west from a point three miles north of the mouth of the Merrimack, which was all that New Hampshire claimed.”

     “The province line as located in 1741 divided Dunstable into two towns (the New Hampshire portion later becoming Nashua) , and cut off large tracts from the northern potions of Dracut, Methuen and Haverhill. The next year (1741-2) Windham, comprising the southern part of Londonderry, was set off to form as separate parish or town.”

     The part of the present Windham-Salem boundary running from ’Clark’s Corner’ (the small offset on Derry line) south to the head of Hitty Titty Pond (Shadow Lake) is a portion of the original boundary of Londonderry.  If we extend this line through Salem Depot village to a point in the southern part of Salem where the Windham-Pelham line boundary would intersect it, we shall enclose the original area of Windham as it was during the first eight years of its existence as a separate municipality, its other boundaries being virtually the same as at present.” (A portion of Windham split off to join the town of Salem. In effect, the towns of Salem, Windham Pelham Hudson, and Nashua came into existence because of the border settlement.) 

    “In May, 1750, Salem was incorporated and the line between that town and Windham was made to run west of Hitty Titty and Policy Ponds, putting those bodies of water wholy in Salem, as well as a number of Scotch-Irish settlers who naturally belonged to Windham. This caused dissatisfaction and within two years, (January 1752,) the line was changed to run practically as it does at present, to the head of Hitty Titty Pond, and from there through that pond and Policy (Canobie Lake) from end to end, and on to the Pelham line. Morrson’s History of Windham does not mention the original Salem boundary running west of Policy Pond, but it is given in Gilbert’s History of Salem and shown by a plan. This change in the boundary lines gave back to Windham number of families living west of Policy Pond, and transferred some situated southwest of that pond to Salem. It was also decreed at the same time that persons living in the part of Salem which had been Windham might join with the latter town in ecclesiastical matters if they wished. A number of families did so affiliate, and paid the minister tax to Windham, everybody in those days having to pay a minister tax somewhere. This arrangement continued until 1798, when the place of worship here was transferred from the Range to the present center of town, no longer accommodating the Salem people.” Facts about Dracut and Haverhill boundaries, both of which lapped over the present territory of Windham, will be given later.”   

Windham Life and Times – November 13, 2020

The Border Dispute

Butterfield Rock | Indian Meadows II

William Harris in his Exeter Newsletter column says, “Butterfield’s Rock, one of the natural curiosities and noted landmarks of the town, (located on the grounds of Windham Country Club) has been known by that name  for nearly two hundred years. In the Londonderry Proprietors Records under the date October 29, 1723, occurs this record: ‘Laid out by the order of the town a farm given in Charter to Mr. David Cargill Junior containing one hundred acres of land lying and being to the southwest of the rock called Butterfield’s rock.’ It apparently took its name from a Jonathan Butterfield, of Chelmsford, to whom was laid out one hundred acres of land, June 8, 1721. This land, however, was not near the rock, as it was west of Beaver brook. August 30, 1728, he again received ninety-eight acres, but its location is not clear. Morrison’s History of Windham says that Butterfield owned land in Londonderry, perhaps including the rock, before the coming of the Londonderry settlers in 1719. When Dracut, first settled in 1664, was incorporated in 1701, its bounds included the south part of what is now Windham, and the settlers of Dracut and Chelmsford used to pasture their cattle in the wild lands and meadows here. They burned down the woods in the south part of town to improve the pasturage…”

     In fact, the land running between Cobbett’s Pond and Canobie Lake was once a huge Native American summer settlement where the Indians would grow the three sisters of corn, winter squash and pole beans. They had burned off this land creating what were known as “Indian Meadows.” A huge number of Indian artifacts were in fact found by the state of New Hampshire when they were reconstructing Cobbett’s Pond Road and arrow-heads were once commonly found on the shore of Canobie and Cobbett’s. A few years ago, my son found a round, fish net weight while diving in Lake Winnipesauke. As the Native Americans moved further north to avoid the advancing settlers, these meadows were coveted by the Europeans. You can imagine having to cut old growth timber with little more than an ax on your farm. The Indian Meadows were already burnt off or had small, new growth which could also be easily burnt off again. I often picture the Indian settlement as it must have looked in Windham. Running along the Range with crops growing and Indians fishing and hunting on Cobbett’s Pond and Canobie Lake. The crow is a Spirit Animal Totem, and I notice there is a murder of crows that congregate near the Range. Maybe they have been doing this since the time of the Indians, with corn nearby, for hundreds of years.

     “The north east corner of Dracut as first laid out, was apparently near Spear hill, east of the southern end of Cobbett’s pond. From there the line ran northwest four miles to the Dunstable line near Beaver brook somewhere in the region of West Windham, from there running south by the Dunstable line about four miles to Jeremy Hill in Pelham. The bounds of Londonderry, when incorporated in 1722 overlapped the Dracut line, and it was not until 1741 that the line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was definitely settled, substantially as at present. Windham was set off from Londonderry in 1742. There is an old path, still usable, running through the woods from near Butterfield’s rock southwest to near E.A. Haskell’s, which has always been called the ‘Dracut Road.’ It would be interesting to know more than we do of the early days to which these old names carry us back.” W.S.H. If you open your eyes, past and present are both filled with beautiful mystery. 

Windham Life and Times November 6, 2020



L to R: The Park-Armstrong Farm. (Common Man) Map of disputed border. This rock was the  SW bound of the Cobbett grant.

Frank Johnson wrote an interesting article about a Massachusetts and New Hampshire granite boundary marker that once stood north of Canobie Lake. Most people are unaware that this southern portion of New Hampshire was disputed territory until settled by the British Crown in 1740. In fact, Windham’s founding in 1742, came about in large part because land grants could be settled and people could feel confident in their titles.

The Border Dispute Between Massachusetts and New Hampshire

     One of the big losers in the settling of the border dispute was the Massachusetts, Rev. Cobbett descendants who now found their large grant of Windham land invalidated by the royal ruling. You see, the Cobbett’s land in Windham, which ran to the shore of Cobbett’s Pond, became invalid, because it had been granted in Massachusetts. Since Massachusetts had no authority in New Hampshire, the grant was worthless. They later petitioned for redress and were granted a large tract elsewhere in the state.

     Alexander Park, emigrated from Northern Ireland in 1728 with the intent of settling in Londonderry NH. He arrived in Boston with his family but was forced to stay in Methuen for four years, Morrison says, “deterred from joining the Londonderry settlement on account of the uncertainty of obtaining valid title to lands. The uncertainty was caused by the dispute between New Hampshire and Massachusetts about State lines. In 1734, New Hampshire was erected into a separate government. Boundary lines were run and established, but all disputes were not settled until 1741. Another fruitful obstacle to his settlement was the great dissatisfaction which existed among the Londonderry settlers themselves, in regard to the division of land. When these latter differences were adjusted, and the ‘Cobbett’s Pond’  land laid out in farms, Alexander Park and his family permanently located in what is now Windham.  But the trouble with the State lines remained; so when on Oct. 8, 1734, he bought of Samuel Allison (one of the first sixteen settlers of Londonderry) the place now owned by Robert Armstrong, he required of said Allison a bond for money, so that if he should be deprived of said land on account said land lying in Massachusetts, he should be protected against loss. Then he erected his buildings…” It is very possible that the Massachusetts-New Hampshire granite marker was located on what had been Park’s land. This farm was acquired by Robert Armstrong through a marriage to Alice Park in 1803.  

    According to Wikipedia, “The Province of New Hampshire and Province of Massachusetts Bay had disagreements over their mutual boundaries. With respect to the southern boundary of New Hampshire, the two provinces disagreed on the meaning of “three miles northward of the Merrimack River, or any part thereof”. New Hampshire drew a line from three miles north of the mouth of the river, while Massachusetts claimed a line three miles north of the northernmost part of the river, taking its territory far north past what is now Concord, New Hampshire. New Hampshire appealed to King George II, who in 1740 decreed the boundary to run along a curved line three miles from the river between the ocean and a point three miles north of Pawtucket Falls (Lowell), where the river begins to turn north. From there a line was to be drawn due west to meet the western boundary of Massachusetts (fixed in 1773 with the Province of New York). The line actually runs slightly northwest to southeast, so it follows no line of latitude. This gave New Hampshire even more than it had claimed, as Pawtucket Falls was south of the mouth of the Merrimack. At this time, the present northern boundary of Massachusetts was established.”    

     You remember the Cobbett’s land grant that was annulled by the settlement of the border dispute. It had laid unsettled for many years because of uncertain title. In 1741, New Hampshire legislature chartered the Town of Windham and appointed Robert Dinsmoor, Joseph Waugh and Robert Thomson, to call the first town meeting in 1742. Not long afterward, the very large, empty tract of land, that had been granted to the Rev. Cobbett family, was granted by the New Hampshire town of Windham to the Dinsmore family.  My father and mother still reside on that original grant of land. The water frontage ran from the brook at what is now Castleton, to a large boulder that once sat in the water of Cobbett’s Pond near Gardner Road. The Parks-Armstrong grant was located south of the brook, along Cobbett’s Pond to Canobie Lake. The Dinsmore land went north up over Jenny’s and portions of Dinsmore Hill where the Governor Dinsmoor marker is today. “Gardner” is in fact a Dinsmore family name and my grandfather built a cottage there which he was forced to move on the ice to another location when his father sold a part of his land to Edward Searles about 1912.