Lesson 6 - People of the River 2

Durham, Madbury, and Lee

Moharimet was a Native American chief, or sagamore, of this region in the seventeenth century. Many old records, such as wills and deeds, mention Moharimet's "planting ground," "Moharimet's Marsh", and "Moharimet's Hill" as landmarks when describing the location of land. For instance, in 1656, Charles Adams had a grant of 100 acres of land at the foot of Moharimet's Hill. The name "Moharimet" is still used today and is the name of an elementary school in the Oyster River School District.

Moharimet's "planting ground" was where his people planted squash, beans, and corn along the Lamprey River in Durham. Moharimet's Marsh was near the "planting ground." Moharimet's Hill was in Madbury. According to legend, Moharimet lived on this hill. It is also said there is a "Council Rock," a large boulder where he made peace with the settlers. It was the meeting place of his tribes.

Moharimet was present when Samuel Symonds of Ipswich, Massachusetts Bay Colony, received a land grant from the King of England for 640 acres and waterpower rights on the Lamprey River. His waterpower rights were at Wadleigh Falls in Lee, which at that time was part of Dover.

What do you think Moharimet was like? Do you think he real­ized what the king’s land grant meant and that his land would be owned by someone else? Did Native Americans think that anyone could own the land?

Resources for Moharimet:

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



The following information is from a paper written by Ina Thompson called "The Lamprey River." Excerpts from this article appeared in The Transcript on August 1, 1978. The title was "Lamprey River: A Place For Fun." The article was about Ina's memo­ries of the Lamprey River and life at Highland House. Highland House was an inn operated by the Thompson family. When Ina was in her 70s, she donated the property to UNH. The house still stands on Bennett Road in Durham.

Part 1: Ice Houses

Before electric refrigeration, neighbors got together in February to cut ice from the river. After the snow was shoveled off the river, someone cut the ice with an ice saw. Cutting the first piece was the hardest part. After the ice was cut into blocks, sturdy tongs were used to move the ice onto sleds. Horses pulled the sleds to the ice house. At the ice house, the ice blocks were arranged in layers, with saw dust in between the layers to keep them cold. This process continued until the ice house was full. It worked so well that the ice didn't melt for a whole year.

Everyone had to be careful not to fall into the river when they were cutting ice. According to Ina, "A team of horses fell in one time, and another team pulled them out. My dog fell in and was gotten out by the men, then raced to the house to be rubbed down and dried by the kitchen range."

Elsewhere on the Lamprey, Mr. Fillion of Newmarket filled his ice house, which was at the river's edge, each winter. Then in the summer the ice was taken by horse and wagon and sold to homes and businesses in the area. The crystal clear ice cakes were used in refrigerators or ice boxes. Highland House had its own ice house and “ a walk-in ice refrigerator used in the olden days for sides of beef, lamb, pork and veal," according to Ina.

Turcotte's Hardware store in Newmarket had an ice house in the back. The Star Theater was above the store. It seemed that air was cooled as it passed through the ice house, then blew into the theater, creating the “first cooling system in Newmarket.”

Highland House and the Griffiths Brothers were the first build­ings to have electric lights in Durham. Newmarket Electric Light, Heat and Power Company built an electric power station at Wiswall Dam in 1899, so, by 1900, Durham homes and businesses began to have electricity. When people got electricity and bought electric re­frigerators, ice houses became "a thing of the past."

Part 2: Other Memories of the River

“In the 58 years I have lived here, skating was not safe until December ..... When snow came, skating ended, but ice fishing took its place.” When spring came, the ice went out. “Bets were made (on the exact date when “ice-out” would happen). Huge ice cakes coming from upstream would zigzag their way through the rapids, end over end and finally stop up against the river ice.” Once the river ice was freed from the banks, it broke up and flowed to the sea. “Usually it went out in the night, and the next morning the river was once more blue and sparkling.”

With the ice gone, boats were painted and taken to the landing. Highland House had two white and blue row boats which often made the two mile trip to Newmarket. After tying the boat at the bridge in town, guests could visit Al Place's Drug Store, Griffin's Hard­ware Store, Priest's men's clothing store, Mrs. Garneau's ladies shop, the La France or La Branch meat shops, a barber shop, a bank, or the post office.

"Many guests from all over the world stayed at Highland House and enjoyed the Lamprey. The children loved to fish. One day one of the young boys came home with a gunny sack filled with eels. He went to bed that night and shut the bag of eels in his closet. The next morning the eels were all over his room .... The Highland House, years ago, set out eel pots and came up with a good catch. They were considered a delicacy."

In 1932, the Thompsons, with the aid of Dow Nurseries of Epping, built a gazebo on the rock island in front of the hotel. The island was connected to the shore by an arched bridge. The gazebo and bridge were beautiful. People came from New York to sketch them. A sandy beach on one side was for swimming. A 1000 watt light was installed for night swimming. In 1938, a heavy spring rain raised the river and the gazebo collapsed.

Click here to view slides of Highland House history.

Resources for Ina Thompson

Lord, Richard H. "Brief History of Highland House."

Thompson, Ina E. "Lamprey River A Place for Fun" The Transcript. August 1, 1978:24.

Thompson, Ina E. "The Lamprey River."