From: History of Rockingham and Strafford counties, New Hampshire
Published 1882 by J. W. Lewis in Philadelphia
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.
JOSHUA OTIS, father of the Rev. Micajah, married Mary Hussey, of Barrington, had ten children-- Nicholas, Elijah, Paul, Micajah, Joshua, Stephen, Mary, Sarah, Jane and Rebecca. He died with the measles, ninety years of age. Came from Dover and took up the farm upon which Jacob B. Smith now lives and there lies his remains to-day. Micajah was a pioneer in organizing and sustaining the Free-Will Baptist Church at Strafford Corner. He settled on land in the extreme southeast corner of Strafford; married Mary Foss, sister to Thomas Foss, better known in all this region as Master Foss. Master Foss had one son, John. He had two sons--John and Andrew.
John was at one time warden of the State prison, at Concord. Andrew was a famous Abolition preacher and lecturer.
Micajah Otis, by his marriage with Sarah Foss, had six children, by whom the Hon. Jacob Otis was the eldest, who lived and died on the farm that his father had cleared up. Was born in 1810; married Sally Kimball of Farmington. He was a real self-made man. Taught school twenty winters. Was one of the selectmen two years; and representative to the General Court two years prior to the division of the town. In 1828 was representative from Strafford, and afterwards counselor from the Second Counselor District three years. Was surveyor of land, justice of the peace, and drew up a large number of legal instruments, and also did a large probate business. He was a successful farmer, and died in 1854, and he sleeps with his fathers.
The Berrys are a numerous and respectable portion of the inhabitants of Strafford. Nathaniel and John were brothers, and came from Rye, and settled at Strafford Corner while as yet there were no public highways in this part of the town, both brothers having many descendants. John Berry, had eight children, among whom was Thomas, father to Tamson, wife of Deacon Thomas Berry. Tamson still lives on the old homestead, a very aged and respectable lady.
Thomas had eighteen children by two wives. These children, with the exception of two, lived to become men and women, and settled in this vicinity.
Nathaniel, father of George, who was the father of Deacon Thomas, had thirteen children.
Nathaniel, George, Thomas and Jamese Demeritt all lived and died on the old homestead. It is now being occupied by Dana R., a son of James Demeritt Berry. This familiy settled here over one hundred and seven years ago.
The HAYESes live about one half-mile above Strafford Corner. This family was among the first settlers. John Hayes was an emigrant from Scotland, came to Dover NH about 1680 lived and died there, married Mary Horne, and had a large family. His son, John-2 Hayes, lived in Dover and was deacon of the first church. He married widow Tamson (Wentworth) Chesley, and had eleven children. One of these was Joseph-3 Hayes, born May 1, 1746, and lived in Strafford NH. He married first, Peggy Brewster; second Elizabeth Wingate. Had eight children all by his first wife. Died July 30, 1816. His son Joseph, a strong-minded and up right man, had a family of twelve children. The homestead has now passed from the name.
BENJAMIN STANTON came from England, born in 1700, married a Ricker, had five children. The third, William, settled in Barrington, now Strafford, buying land of the town of Dover in 1754, showing a settlement of one hundred and twenty-eight years. Married in 1761 a Brock. Their son William Jr. lived at home and married a Holmes. They had eight children. The eldest, Ezra, still kept the old homestead and married an Otis, and had seven children; one, Joshua O. Stanton, M.D. now a practicing physician in Washington, D.C. and another William P. married a Brock, who with their only child Fred T. who married a Young, live now on the farm reclaimed from the forests by their ancestors. This farm, one of the best and neatest kept in town is a half-bmile above Free-Will Baptist meeting-house at Strafford Corner.
The YOUNG family living on the Crown Point road almost one mile north of the Free-Will Baptist Church were among the first settlers. Stephen, who now occupies the old homestead, is eightyone years of age. His grandfather, Benjamin, came from Dover, and had seven children, among whom was Elder Winthrop Young, born in Strafford, 1753; consequently this part of the town must have been settled by the family over one hundred and twenty-nine years.
Stephen Young's father's name was Jonathan, and had eight children, of whom two, Stephen and John F., are now living. Stephen had five children; John F. Young had four. John F. Young Jr. is a prominent physician in the city of Newburyport, Mass.
Deacon CHARLES SCRUTON lives on the Crown Pint road, near the top of the Blue Hill. His great-great-grandfather's name was William; came from Ireland, and died in Barnstead with his daughter, Mrs. Drew. His son Thomas was born while crossing the water, settled in Strafford, where Deacon Charles now lives, died, and was buried there.
Michael Scruton, son of Thomas and grandfather of Deacon Charles was born on the home place Dec. 30, 1774, also died and was buried there. Thomas Scruton, son of Michael, born Aug. 11, 1804, and now lives (1882, Aug 16th) with his son, Deacon Charles Scruton, on the old homestead.
OLIVER FOSS, who lives on Strafford Ridge, on the farm reclaimed from the forrest by his ancesotrs, is one of the best and neatest farmers. The soil by nature is excellent, and the best of care is taken of it. His great-grandfather, Geroge Foss, first settled in Portsmouth (NH), then in Barrington, finally on the farm where Oliver now lives. Died and buried there in 1807, aged eightysix.
Had eleven children.
Oliver's grandfather had eight children. He lived died and was buried on the farm also. Oliver's father had five children,--Tobias (minister), Warren, William, Oliver, Mary. Oliver has one daughter, Helen, who married John C. Hayes. They live with Oliver and have five children. These generations, most of them, settled in Strafford and vicinity.
COTTON FOSS lives near the top of the Blue Hill, on the Ridge Road. His father's name was Goerge, who cleared up the farm where Cotton now lives. THey have deeds showing the settlement of the farm, one hundred and two years ago. No read over the Blue Hills at that time.
This branch of the FOSS family settled first in Portsmouth, afterwards in Barrington, then in the part now called Strafford. Bears were plenty at that time. Cotton's father the first year on the farm killed thirteen. Moose also were killed on the mountain.
George Cotton's father had six children, among them one daughter, Betsey, the only female, I am told, that was ever born on this farm for the one hundred and two years of its settlement. Cotton has three children living,--Paul M. in Boston, and Cotton Jr. and Henry R. living on the homestead.
PAUL PERKINS lives near the top of the Blue Hill on the Ridge road, and now owns the home of his fathers. Lemuel Perkins, the great-grandfather, settled on the place one hundred and two years ago. His grandfather's name was Paul, his father's name, John. Five generations now lie in the graveyard near the house. His grandfather voted at ever election for sixty-three years and went twelve miles, part of the time on foot through the terrible snows and storms of March to reach his voting-place in Barrington. His father, John, voted fifty-five times without missing an election. Paul has voted thirty-one times, and through these generations not an election has been missed. They all always voted the Democratic ticket.
The Hon. SAMUEL P. MONTGOMERY, a great-grandson of John Montgomery, one of the earliest settlers on Strafford Ridge, was born Jan 9, 1806. His great-grandfather came to Strafford, settled on a farm, cleared it up, and his son Jonathan, grandfather of Samuel P., inherited it from his father, and John, the father of Samuel; succeeded to the property, and Samuel and David K. received it from their fathers. It has now gone out of the name.
Samuel P. was a noted teacher. He held all the offices of trust and responsibility in town several times over, also senator and representative to the Legislature. This family was among the first, if not the very first, to settle in Strafford.
JOHN CAVERNO, one of the first settlers, a son of Arthur Caverno, of Scotch-Irish descent, from whom originated the Caverno family, came from the north of Ireland to this country about 1835. John, son of Arthur, born in New Foundland in 1742, settled on the Canaan Road about a mile south of Bow Lake, when the country was all a wilderness; married Sarah Tibbetts, of Barrington 1746. They had two children,--Molly and Jeremiah. Jeremiah succeeded his father on the old homestead.
John and George Caverno bought farms in the immediat neighborhood of the old homestead, upon which they lived and died, which are now occupied by their immediate descendants. Arthur was a Free-Will Baptist minister of note, settled and died in Dover. Sullivan is a prominent lawyer and lives in Lockport, N.Y. The only male descendants living in town are Arthur and Jeremiah, sons of John Caverno, and George S., son of George W. Caverno. The Cavernoas have always occupied a prominent position socially and politically.
ELIJAH TUTTLE Jr., son of Elijah Tuttle of Barrington was born July 10, 1774; married SALLY TASKER April 5, 1798. The Tuttles were originally from England. He was the first man in Strafford that ever received a collegiate education. He was an expert in surveying, and did most of the business in that line in the westerly part of the town. His children were Samuel, William, Mary, Jehoah, Sarah, Asa, and Ester; nearly all lived and died in Strafford. His descendants still live on the old home-stead, which is situated near Bow Lake.
John, the grandfather of Rufus, born Jan. 18, 1739; cleared up the farm where Rufus now lives. His father, Israel, born July 20, 1768, also lived and died on the homestead. They have been an industrious , frugal and respectable family.
AARON WALDRON, one of the first settlers, born Aug. 4, 1749, took up his farm near the northwesterly part of the town. Hannah, his wife was born March 29, 1750, by whom he had thirteen children, namely--Azariah, Aaron, Isaac, John, Abram, Robert, Abram (2d), William,
Hannah, Richard, Lovey, Zachariah, and Sarah, the only living child, who married James B. Foss, of Strafford Ridge. Azariah, the eldest was the first representative of the town afters its separation from Barrington. These children settled in town, and all the Waldrons in Strafford are descendants of Aaron. The grandchildren now living in twon are Jonathan C., Azariah, and William W. Waldron. This family is one of the most numerous and respectable in town. We have endeavored to trace the history of some of the prominent early settlers, have consulted the most reliable records, and many of the oldest inhabitants and after all much, at this late day must depend upon tradition. Every one who has given the subject thought knows the difficulties in the way.
We might mention among the prominent families of the early settlers the Pershleys, Brocks, Hams, Scotts, Babbs, Stileses, Slopers, Taskers, Huckinses, Holmeses, Boodys, Buzzels, Caverlys, Caswells, Cates, Critchets, Evanses, Hills, Jennesses, Pillsburys, Roberts, Shackfords, Smiths, Swains, Browns, womblys, Leighons, Joneses, and Walkers.
Many of the sons of Strafford occupy places of respectability and trust in various parts of the country. Among them may be mentioned Drs. Joshua O. Stanton Jr., John F. Young Jr., Stephen Young, E. Frank Foss, George H. Montgomery, Jeremiah C. Garland. Lawyers, Robert B. Foss,Winship Twombly, Charles Caverno, Zachariah B. Caverly, Secretary of Legation to Peru; Levi B. Tasker, Free-Will Baptist clergymen; Tobias Foss.
Strafford was set off from Barrington by an act of the Legislature passed in June 1820. The old town was twelve miles long by six and a half miles wide. The General Court cut in halves and called the northern half Strafford, from the name of the county, which had been named by Governor Wentworth in honor of the Earl of Strafford in Old England, whose surname was Wentworth. So the town is about six miles square, and it is divided into two sections of about equal area, by the the Blue Hills, known on the old maps as "Parker's Mountain," because it fell by lot to a Mr. Parker of Portsmouth when Barrington was first distributed among the tax payers of that town about one hundred and ninety years ago. Mr. Parker's lot was not very valuable for farming purposes, but from its summit can be seen some of the most beautiful and grand views that New Hampshire affords; and in turn it is one of the most conspicuous and beautifullandmarks in Southern New Hampshire.
A full history of Strafford is available from the Strafford Historical Society. Contact Liz Evans at 603-664-2192 x105