Dr. Isaiah D. Edgerly (1800-1870) came to Lee from Strafford, New Hampshire after the Civil War. He bought a large farm, general store, and mill at Wadleigh Falls on the Lamprey River in South Lee.
He converted part of the mill into a medicine mill. People from the neighborhood, including children who attended the school at Wadleigh Falls, collected herbs, roots, and bark for his mill. The children were especially fond of gathering slippery elm bark, because it was chewy and gum-like. The ingredients for the medicines were ground and mixed by eight water-powered mortar and pestles. The medicines were bottled at the mill. The brand name for the medicine was "Dr. I. D. Edgerly & Son." (One of the bottles is in the Lee Historical Society's collection.) Around 1875, the family's large, two-story mill burned, but the family rebuilt the medicine and grist mill and added a cider mill.
Dr. Edgerly's medicine was probably shipped by stage coach to Newmarket, Northwood, or Durham. The stage coach stopped at Wadleigh Falls. Later, after the trains came to town in 1874, the medicine would have been hauled by wagon to the depot in South Lee, and shipped from there.
In 1879, Dr. Edgerly's 12 year old daughter, Annie Josephine, went to pick pond lilies at the mill pond. The water in the pond was quite deep, because it was held back by the large dam at Wadleigh Falls. Annie fell into the pond and drowned. Her brothers attempted to rescue her, but they were too late.
Isaiah died in 1902. The mill and store are gone, but his large three-story house still stands at the falls, at the intersection of Route 152 and Campground Road.
Dodge, Renata. “Items Sought Which Tell Lee’s Past: Historians Ask for Museum Donations.” The Transcript. July 8, 1980: 32.
Around 1750, Reuben Hill and his wife, Abigail, owned farm land and mills on the Lamprey River. His mills were located upriver from a bend in the river that is currently called "Lee Hook." In 1750, theTown of Lee did not exist, so Reuben's property was in the town of Durham. Reuben's mills were located near waterfalls that came to be known as Hill's Falls by the local people. His sawmill and grist mill were powered by water from the Lamprey River. Do you know what a grist mill is? It is a mill that grinds grain, such as wheat, into flour.
By 1760, Reuben had built a house on a hill just south of the river. The house still stands on Lee Hook Road. His mills were on the other side of the river. Reuben also built a stone bridge across the Lamprey. There is still a bridge there on Lee Hook Road, although the stone bridge no longer exists. Do you think he built the bridge so he could get to his mills more easily? He actually charged a toll for the use of his bridge and in 1771 was paid five pounds, one shilling by the Town of Lee. His bridge was known as "Hill's Bridge."
Reuben was one of 100 men who signed a letter requesting that his village be allowed to separate from the Town of Durham. This letter, or petition, was written on November 18, 1765, signed, and then sent to Governor Benning Wentworth and the General Assembly in Portsmouth. A vote was taken, the governor selected a name, and Lee became a separate town on January 16, 1766. Reuben served as a selectman for the Town of Lee before he died in 1794.
Reuben also supported the fight for American Independence. First, he signed the Association Test promising to oppose the British armies. The Association Test was a paper that was sent to all the towns in New Hampshire by the Committee of Safety to find out how many people were Tories, loyal to the King of England, and how many were Patriots, loyal to America. Later he became a soldier and fought in the Revolutionary War.
Baier, Ursula, Editor. Lee in Four Centuries: Some Historical Notes Published to Commemorate the Bicentennial of the Incorporation of the Town, 1766 – 1966.
Scales, John. Lee, New Hampshire. Dover, NH: C. E. Whitehouse: 1916.
Thompson, Mary P. Landmarks in Ancient Dover, New Hampshire. Durham, NH: Durham Historic Association: 1965.
James Hill was a landowner, lumberman, and shipbuilder. James kept a diary that tells about his life and work. He built boats for a military expedition in New York in 1755, when the English were trying to defend the colonists against attack by the French and Indians. The boats were used in battles on the Hudson River and Lake George. He also helped to build the warship "Achilles" in 1758 before moving with his wife, Sarah Coffin, to Newmarket in 1761. He began building ships on the river soon after he arrived. Five months later he launched a brig for William Whipple of Portsmouth. (A brig is a sailing ship with two masts.) James also helped to build the ship "America". (See the profile on shipbuilding.)
James served in the Revolutionary War. He was made Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th Regiment of Militia in New Hampshire. He was promoted to General of the State Militia, and was known as General Hill. He also served in the Third Provincial Congress in 1775, and was appointed to the New Hampshire General Court for several terms after that.
At first James and Sarah lived on Newmarket Neck. Sarah died in 1774, and James married Sarah Hoyt. They moved to the Moody Parsonage in Newmarket in 1784, where James lived until his death in 1811.
Getchell, Sylvia Fitts. The Tide Turns on the Lamprey, Vignettes in the Life of a River: A History of Newmarket, NH. Concord, NH: Capital Offset Co., Inc.: 1984.
Saltonstall, William G. Ports of Piscataqua: Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press: 1941.