Lesson 6:  PEOPLE OF THE RIVER (1)


In this lesson, students will learn about the people who have lived along the Lamprey River in the past. They might have lived at any time between 1600 and the mid-1900s. There are more than 20 profiles of these people from Lamprey River communities following this lesson. Their stories provide a glimpse of life along the river during another time.


Who lived along the Lamprey and how did the Lamprey influence their lives?


several hours


__multiple copies of "People of the River" profiles at the end of this lesson

__other resources about New Hampshire history

__street maps of communities along the river

__poster board, construction paper, markers, glue, paint, brushes (whatever the students need for their projects)


1. Find out what students already know about the people who have lived along the river. Encourage the children to ask their parents and grandparents about people from their families who might have lived near the river in the past. Look at street maps of communities along the river. How many streets are named after people? What are those names? When did they live? What were their occu­pations? How did they use the river?

2. Encourage the children to read several of the profiles. Have students select their favorite. Ask them to re-read the article, think about the information, and then tell a partner about it.

3. Have the students take notes from the article. Ask them to think about the following questions: What are the important facts about this person? When and where did the person live? What do you think the person looked like? What did he or she do for work? What is special and fascinating about this person's story? They may use the "People of the River" note-taking guide or record their infor­mation in their journals.

4. Have the students plan their posters or similar projects. Questions for them to ask themselves are: What should the title be? What information should be on the poster? Do I need other resources? Do I need maps? Where can I get more information?

5. After they have gathered their information, brainstorm with your students about ways to make their posters attractive. Written information should be clear and neat. Have them gather pictures, make photocopies, or draw pictures for their poster. They may type written information they plan to include in their poster.

6. Help students decide when they are ready to create their posters or projects and give them time to complete them.

7. After the posters are completed, have students work on their class presenta­tions. They may work alone or with a partner. A short role-playing session illustrat­ing good presentation skills would be helpful. During a discussion with the class, draw up a list of criteria for good presentations. Use this as a guide and an evaluation tool when the presentations are given.

8. After the students give a presentation, have the other members of the class write a few sentences or make a small drawing about the person being described in their journals.

9. Encourage students to find ways to connect the information from the ar­ticles to the large map created in Lesson 3.

10. Other ways your class might use the profiles:

  • Create a time line, then add names, dates, and pictures generated from the infor­mation in the articles.
  • Dress up as "river people," and then give oral presentations or create a play.
  • Gather or make props that relate to the information in the articles, then give oral reports that incorporate the props.
  • Make advertisements for or about the people in the articles.
  • Draw profiles of human heads. Make hats that might have been worn by the river people. Attach cards that give interesting information about the person to the profiles.
  • Write ads for workers in the various jobs represented by the People of the River profiles. Publish a classified section of a newspaper, using the ads, or design them as posters.


What was the person's name? _______________________________________________

When did the person live? __________________________________________________

Where did the person live? _________________________________________________

What did the person do for work? ____________________________________________

How was the person connected to the river? ____________________________________



What were some interesting facts about the person? _____________________________



What other information did you learn about the person? __________________________



Imagine how the person looked and write a short description. ______________________


Sketch the person wearing an appropriate hat from the correct time period..



Archeologists have studied several sites on the Lamprey River. They found tools, arrowheads, and pieces of pottery and bones. When they tested these artifacts, the results proved that Native Americans began to live along the Lamprey River 8,000 to 9,000 years ago and continued to live there in their villages until the 1700s. The Native Americans in the area were probably part of the Piscataqua or Squamscot tribes. They called themselves the “Abenaki”, or People of the Dawn, and belonged to the larger Algonquin group.

These native peoples set up their summer camps at spots that were convenient for fishing, farming, or finding materials for clothing, shelter or food. One site might be near clay deposits so they could make simple dishes. Another campsite might be near a stone quarry so they could make tools and arrowheads. A third site might be near the marsh grasses whose seeds they gathered for food. Or they might camp on the shores of Great Bay where they could harvest oysters and clams. The archaeologists know they lived and fished on an island in the river at Wadleigh Falls in Lee.

The "People of the Dawn" continued to live near the river after the European settlers began arriving in 1623. They were peaceful and traded furs for cloth, blankets, pots, and knives. The settlers learned many valuable things from the Abenaki people, such as what plants could be used as medicines and how to make snow shoes.

On January 17, 1660, Wadononamin, sagamore or chief of the Piscataqua tribes, granted the land between two branches of the Lamprey River, a place the native peoples called Washucke, to Edward Hilton, Jr.. Edward was the oldest son of Edward Hilton, one of the first settlers of Dover. It was agreed that Wadononamin could use the Washucke planting ground during his lifetime.

Many Native Americans left the area in 1672 and moved to the Hudson River near Troy, New York. This happened before King Philip's War in 1675, the first of the great New England Indian Wars. Do you think they knew there was going to be a war? Is that why they moved? What might have been other reasons?

Resources for Native Americans –People of the Dawn

Calloway, Colin G. Indians of North America:  The Abenaki. New York:  Chelsea House Publishers:  1989.

Getchell, Sylvia Fitts. Lamprey River Village:  The Early Years. Newmarket, NH:  Newmarket Press:  1976.


In the early 1700s, Jacob Freese, a resident of Epping, bought 150 acres of land outside of town. This land was known as Range 5 and would become the town of Deerfield in 1763. Jacob added 40 more acres in 1768. The Lamprey River flows through this property, near where Deerfield Elementary School is now.

Jacob never lived on this land, but he and his sons developed the mill site on the river. A dam, which is still standing, was constructed and created a mill pond, Freese's Pond. In 1773, Jacob's son, Andrew, built his home near the millpond. By 1780, the family had built a house, barn, and other smaller buildings on their property. They also had half ownership in the sawmill and gristmill (a mill for grinding grain into flour) near the dam.

Farmers did many different kinds of work during the year. Andrew Freese cut and hauled logs to the millpond during the win­ter. Sleds pulled by horses carried the logs across the snow. When the millpond thawed in the spring and flowing water once again turned the mill wheels, the logs were sawn into lumber. The farmers then hauled their lumber by horse and wagon to their homes, where they used it to improve or repair their farms. They also sold some of the lum­ber in order to buy supplies. During the spring and summer the farmers worked on their farms, raising crops and tending their ani­mals. In the fall, the grain they harvested from their fields was hauled to the gristmill where it was ground into flour. In win­ter, they would be cut timber once again.

Andrew's sons, Dudley and Jacob, continued to live on the farm and run the mill. Jacob built a second home on the property. This land stayed in the family for nearly 200 years, but by 1904, the mill wheels were no longer turning, and the old mill was falling down. The Freese and Robinson families continued to maintain the dam. The original home site was sold in 1928. The rest of the prop­erty, the pond and the dam were sold in 1970.

Resources for the Freese Family

Wasson, Joanne F. More Tales of Old Deerfield: A collection of
stories, people, places and events that have shaped the past. Joanne
F. Wasson: 2008.

LONE TREE BOY SCOUT CAMP                                                       

For 8,000 years, people have camped along the river; first the Native Americans, then colonists, and finally scouts and other recre­ational groups. Have you ever camped along the Lamprey?

The Lone Tree Boy Scout Council of Amesbury, Massachusetts, wanted to build a summer camp for their scouts. Their search led them to Deerfield, New Hampshire. There they found a good site for a camp on Freese's Pond. Freese's Pond was once a millpond, created when a dam was built across the Lamprey River. This property was owned by Jenny Freese. In 1928 the council bought 150 acres from Jenny and began transforming the Freese farm into a sum­mer camp for boys.

The Council created a waterfront by adding docks, floats, and a diving board. The Council was given permission to dredge the pond to make it deep enough for diving. Soon they had a swimming and boating area for the scouts to enjoy.

Most of the Freese farm buildings were turned into camp build­ings. The house became a store and post office. The barn, with the addition of a wood floor, screens and kitchen, became the mess hall or cafeteria. It could serve 100 boys. A large stone fireplace was built at one end of the barn. The carriage house became the craft workshop and the shoemaker's shop became the camp's infirmary. Across the road, volunteers built cabins and tent platforms where the boys would sleep.

The camp was dedicated in 1929 and was still operating in 1937. By 1943 the property had been sold and the camp was no more. Some think the camp was sold for fear of polio being spread by swimming in fresh water.

Resources for Lone Tree Boy Scout Camp

Wasson, Joanne F. More Tales of Old Deerfield: A collection of
stories, people, places and events that have shaped the past. Joanne
F. Wasson: 2008.

VALENTINE HILL                                                                                 

Valentine Hill was one of the early settlers of Durham. He was from England and had a brother who lived in London. By 1636, he had sailed to America and was living in Boston where he held several positions: pro­prietor, deacon of a church, member of the Ancient and Honor­able Artillery Company, and part owner of a wharf.

In 1643, Valentine received a grant of land on the Oyster River. His second land grant was at Wheelwright Pond. He raised cattle on this property. Both of these grants were in the town of Dover, because Lee and Durham were not towns yet.

In 1649, Valentine and William Beard got permission to build the first sawmill at the falls on Oyster River. Back then, mills used flowing water to turn water wheels. The water wheel turned gears that moved the saw up and down. When a log was pushed toward the saw, the saw blade’s up and down movement cut it into flat boards.

Valentine built a house near his mill, then received another 500 acres for a farm on the north side of the Oyster River. This property included all the land that eventually became the village of Durham.

In 1652, he was given permission to build mills on the Lamprey River, too. In addition to the mills, he was also granted the right to cut the trees growing along the river and extending a mile into the woods.

Valentine's mill on the Oyster River often could not operate in the summer and fall, because there was not enough water flowing over the falls to turn the wheel. Of course, the flow depended on the amount of rainfall the area had received. He looked for ways to increase his waterpower and decided to build a canal from the Lamprey River to his mill. This would direct some of the water from the Lamprey River into the Oyster River. When he got permission to build the canal in 1655, it was probably the first canal project in New England.

Valentine's canal was to begin at the Moat, an island in the Lamprey River that is near Packer's Falls, connect with Denbow's Brook, and flow into the Mill Pond above Oyster River Falls. Longmarsh Brook could be this canal. However, no one is sure if Valentine ever completed the canal.

Valentine employed many men at his farms and mills. Some of them were Scots who were taken prisoner by the British. The prison­ers were marched to Durham and Newcastle in England and many were shipped to Boston on the ships "Unity", "John", and "Sara". In Boston, the Scottish prisoners were sold for 20 pounds each as indentured servants. They had to work from 5 to 7 years to pay for their passage and to learn a trade. At the end of that time, they were freemen. They could not marry until they were free. These men worked in shifts at Valentine's mills and had three days a week to work in their own gardens. Patrick Jameson and Thomas Doughty were both Scots who were indentured to Valentine Hill.

In 1655, Valentine built the  first meetinghouse in Durham. He was a selectman from 1651 to 1657 and a judge from 1652 until his death in 1661. His first wife was Frances Freestone who died in 1644. His second wife was Mary Eaton.

Resources for Valentine Hill:

Sargent, Jean A. “Valentine Hill, Sparkplug of Early New England.” 1981.

Thompson, Mary P. Landmarks in Ancient Dover, New Hampshire. Durham, NH: Durham Historic Association: 1965.