Lesson 6: People of the River 6


Piscataqua Packet Captains: Nathaniel Keys; Stephen Twombly; Samuel Twombly; Lemuel, William, and George Drew. Gundalow Captain: Harrison G. Watson

Do you know anyone who has the same last name as one of the captains listed above? Many of these captains' descendants live here. You may know someone who is related to them.

During the nineteenth century, a packet service existed between Portsmouth and the Lamprey River. At first gundalows transported coal, cotton, and other supplies from Portsmouth to the mills in Newmarket, then carried the finished product back to Portsmouth. There the cargo was loaded onto larger sailing ships and transported to other ports.

The first gundalows were small and could carry about 10 tons They looked something like barges, sometimes with a square sail. Then larger boats were built that had more capacity and could carry more cargo, up to 30 or 40 tons. They were 60 to 70 feet long. These boats had a single lateen sail, rudders, tillers, and small cabins. The record time for a trip from the Lamprey River landing to Portsmouth was 6 hours and 15 minutes. Gundalows had to sail with the wind at their stern and with the tide pushing them along.

Harrison G. Watson (1846 -1928) from Newmarket was captain of one of these larger gundalows. His boat, the "Fearless", carried bricks for the new mills. The bricks probably came from the brickyards in Durham or Dover. The last gundalow to come into Newmarket was the "Fanny M", captained by Edward Adams. You can see an exact replica of his boat at Great Bay Discovery Center in the fall and in Portsmouth in the summer. It’s called the "Captain Adams". Have you ever seen it?

Then different boats, known as Piscataqua packets, began to sail from the towns on Great Bay to Portsmouth. They were designed to transport both passengers and cargo. The fare from Portsmouth to Newmarket was 12 1/2 cents. The service was busiest between 1820 and 1850, before trains came to the area.

The packets were 30 to 40 feet long and carried 15 tons of cargo below their decks. They had tall lateen sails and could be handled by two people. Captain Adams once saw 18 of the red and green packets off Durham Point. They sailed to Newmarket with passengers and bales of cotton and returned with passengers, the finished cloth from Newmarket Manufacturing Company, and other local products.

Nathaniel Keys was builder and captain of the "Monroe", a Piscataqua packet. It was launched from Chapman's Wharf on the Lamprey in 1819. Stephen Twombly of Dover was owner and captain of the "Fox", one of the first packets in the area. Later, his son, Captain Samuel Twombly, navigated the "Greyhound". Lemuel Drew of Newmarket owned and operated several packets, the last being the "Lion". Lemuel's sons, William and George, built the "Factory Girl", which sailed from Newmarket and Dover to Portsmouth.

On July 30, 1873, the "Factory Girl" transported 19 passengers to Adams Point for a picnic on the Bay. The people were Newmarket residents and employees of the B.F. Haley tailoring company. The picnickers returned to the boat and sailed into Little Bay. Suddenly a strong wind blew the "Factory Girl" up on a ledge. The packet turned over on its side, spilling the people out into the cold waters. They weren't far from shore, but many of the passengers couldn't swim. Three young girls drowned - Abbie Garland, Millie Moulton, and Jennie Burnham.

Resources for Packet Service:

George, Nellie Palmer. Old Newmarket, New Hampshire:  Historical Sketches. Exeter, NH: The News-Letter Press: 1932.

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.

Harvey, Joseph. “An Uncharted Town:  Newmarket on the Lamprey – Historical Notes and Personal Sketches.” The Granite Monthly. February and March 1908: 33-122.

 Saltonstall, William G. Ports of Piscataqua:  Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press: 1941.


In the early 1700s, the towns of Dover and Exeter were growing larger. Businesses were being built. There were shipyards, sawmills, fish salting and packing companies, brickyards, cooper (barrel mak­ing) shops, carpenter shops, and inns. What was it that first drew European settlers to the Lamprey River? Farmers came for the salt marsh hay. Fishermen came for the spring fishing. Hunters came to shoot game. Traders came to barter with the Native Americans who lived along the river. But finding mast trees and lumber for building ships, as well as for building houses and making other wood prod­ucts, was the biggest reason. England, Virginia, the West Indies, the towns in New Hampshire, and other places in New England needed the timber and wood products.

People made their way into the forests of Newmarket, Newfields, Nottingham, and Lee, where they began cutting down trees. Lumber and logs were hauled by oxen from the woods to the landing near the mouth of the Lamprey. The tallest, straightest white pine trees were reserved for the King of England's ships until after the Revolutionary War. Most of the timber was shipped to Ports­mouth, Dover, or Exeter on gundalows, but some of it stayed in Newmarket.

Shipbuilders and their crews began to build ships right on the banks of the Lamprey. One year, 21 ships were built at the landing in Newmarket. Seven ships could lie in the shipyard at one time. The work was so important shipwrights didn't have to participate in militia training. How exciting it must have been when a crew fin­ished work and the ship was ready to send down the river and out into Great Bay. The day a ship was launched was a time of celebration for the whole town.

According to Nellie George in Old Newmarket, one of the ships built at Newmarket was the brig "Rokeby". It was launched and taken down through the bays and Piscataqua River to Portsmouth where it was outfitted and placed under the command of Captain John Parrot.

General James Hill, a shipwright from Newmarket, got the timber for the war ship "America" at the landing. The "Americ"a was one of the largest ships built on the East Coast at that time. When the ship was completed, she had 74 guns or cannons. The Continental Congress ordered that she be built in 1776. She was designed by William Hackett of Exeter. Congress sent John Paul Jones to Portsmouth to oversee the construction of the ship. Captain Jones was a famous sea captain who commanded war ships for America during the Revolu­tionary War. You can see his house in Portsmouth. It is open to the public in the summer.

The "America" was launched in 1782 and given to France. This was disappointing to Captain Jones, but the US Congress didn't have the money to outfit her. Also, the French ship "Magnifique"had sunk in Boston Harbor trying to help our country during the war, so the "America" was a gift from our country to a friend and ally. It replaced the "Magnifique" and became part of the French Navy.

Resources for Shipbuilding:

George, Nellie Palmer. Old Newmarket, New Hampshire:  Historical Sketches. Exeter, NH: The News-Letter Press: 1932.

Saltonstall, William G. Ports of Piscataqua. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press: 1941.



Northwood Ridge is the source of the Isinglass, Lamprey, and Suncook Rivers. Water flowing down the eastern side of the Ridge forms the Lamprey River that reaches the Great Bay in Newmarket and eventually, the Atlantic Ocean. Water flowing down the other side forms the Isinglass and Suncook Rivers. Both of these rivers pour into the Merrimack, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean in Massa­chusetts.

Jonathan and Susannah Clark built their home on Northwood Ridge around 1780. They planted an elm tree in their yard soon after the house was finished. Because the Ridge has a clear view of the Atlantic Ocean, ships sailing into Portsmouth Harbor used the Clark's elm tree as a landmark. In the 1920s, after living almost 150 years, the huge Clark elm was damaged by fire and had to be cut down. If the tree could speak, think of all the events and people it could have recalled.

Resources for Jonathan and Susannah Clark

Bailey, Joann Weeks. A Guide to the History and Old Dwelling Places of
, New Hampshire. Concord, N.H.: Capital Offset Company,
Inc.: 1973.


Philip Hoitt was born in Northwood in 1771. He married Dor­othy Godfrey in 1790. By 1794, he and Dorothy were living on the eastern side of Saddleback Mountain near the southern border of Northwood. Philip and his son, Jonathan, gradually added land and buildings to their farm.

Like many farmers of the time, the Hoitts raised sheep, then spun and wove the sheep's wool to make their own clothing. They also raised flax, which was woven into linen or linsey-woolsey, a cloth made from flax and wool. Other items produced on their farm were soap, candles, quilts, rugs, and shoes.

The Hoitts carried on two other activities at their farm that were not as common to most farms in the area. They made their own pottery and wooden ware. The Hoitts' pottery was called redware, because it was made of brick clay. This type of clay is red because it contains iron oxide. Today, no one knows where the Hoitts' clay came from. Were there deposits of clay along the streams that flowed near their home and eventually poured into the Lamprey River? Perhaps the clay came from Epping, where there were many clay deposits. Their pottery was made behind their home, in a small building that had a foot-powered potter's wheel and shelves where the pottery dried. Outside the shop was a cylindrical brick kiln with a domed top where the pottery was fired for 25 hours. Then the redware was glazed and fired again. The Hoitts made plates, cups, pots, and pans in their shop.

On a stream below their home, the Hoitts also had a woodwork­ing mill. Water power operated a lathe where plates, spoons, and other items made of wood were created. When a shovel or rake handle broke, Jonathan probably ran down to the mill to make a new one.

Resources for Philip and Jonathan Hoitt

Bailey, Joann Weeks. A Guide to the History and Old Dwelling Places of
Northwood, New Hampshire
. Concord, N.H.: Capital Offset Company,
Inc.: 1973.


The first Dudleys to come here were active in politics and church affairs. Thomas Dudley was the first member of the family to come to America. He arrived in 1630 and was governor of the Prov­ince of Massachusetts. One of his sons, Joseph, was also a provincial governor. Another son, Samuel, became the pastor of the Congrega­tional Church in Exeter in 1650.

Colonel Stephen Dudley, grandson of Reverend Samuel Dudley, was born about 1688 in Exeter. He was a shoemaker who wore a red coat, ruffled shirt, and powdered wig. He married Sarah Davidson of Newbury, Massachusetts. Stephen purchased land, now Raymond, from an Indian sagamore or chief, and probably built the first saw­mill in that town around 1725.

The area where Stephen Dudley built his mills was called Freetown and his mills were known as the Freetown Mills. They were located on the banks of the Lamprey River. On the west side of the river, the Dudleys had a grist mill for grinding corn and wheat. Its wheel was ten feet in diameter and stood upright. The sawmill was on the east side of the river and had a straight saw blade that moved up and down as a log was pushed, end first, against it. The log would be run through the saw several times to make flat boards.

There is an old picture of Mr. Dudley's Freetown Mills that shows a bridge crossing the river beside the mills. In the picture, two men are washing their sheep in the river while another rides over the bridge on horseback.

As settlers moved west, Native Americans resisted their ad­vance. John Dudley, Stephen's brother, was killed in the nearby town of Fremont in 1710. He was just 18 years old. Another brother, James, was born in 1690. He was a cooper (barrel builder) and a lieutenant in the militia. He was the father of Judge John Dudley of Raymond.

Resource for the Dudley Family:

Fullerton, Joseph. The History of Raymond, N. H. Dover, NH: Morning
Star Job Printing House: 1875.

Raymond Historical Society. A Pictorial History of Raymond, New Hampshire, 1764 to 1976. Raymond Historical Society: 1976.


Pretend the year is 1908 and you live in Raymond, New Hampshire. If you want to go to Portsmouth or Manchester, you probably will go to the depot in the village and ride the Boston & Maine Railroad. You can board the train to Portsmouth at 9:06 A.M. and arrive in the city at 10:09 A.M..  Later, when you want to return home, you will have to catch the 5:25 P.M. train that will arrive back in Raymond at 6:20 P.M.. If you want to go to Manchester, you will jump on the train at 9:34 A.M. and arrive in the city at 10:12 A.M., then make the return trip at 4:20 P.M., arriving in Raymond at 4:59 P.M..  

Sections of the train track followed rivers, including the Lamprey River, because the land along rivers tends to be flatter and has fewer inclines and ledges. The track passed through the towns of Manchester, Auburn, Candia, Raymond, Epping, Newfields, Stratham, Greenland, and Portsmouth. In 1908 there were 17 stops along the line.

The train through Raymond started as the Portsmouth & Concord Railroad and was completed in 1852. The company declared bankruptcy in 1855 and a new company, the Concord & Portsmouth Railroad, took control. This company also had financial problems, so in 1858 the Concord Railroad leased the line, but decided to run the train from Candia to Manchester rather than to Bow Junction. This route was completed in 1862. Eventually the Concord Railroad merged with other rail companies and formed the Concord & Montreal Railroad. In 1895 their lease was transferred to the Boston & Maine Railroad. The rent for leasing the train line was $25,000 a year. Service between Manchester and Rockingham Junction (Newmarket) ended in 1982 and the rails were eventually removed. The section from Rockingham Junction to Portsmouth is still used.

There have been three different depots in Raymond. The first burned in 1878 when the whole village was nearly destroyed by fire. A passenger depot, freight depot, wood shed and water house were rebuilt, but were burned in 1892 in a fire that again destroyed most of downtown Raymond. After that fire, the present depot, which is now the Raymond Historical Society, was built.

At one time, a covered railroad bridge east of the depot crossed over the Lamprey River. It burned in March of 1905. A new covered bridge was built, but it was replaced with a steel beam bridge in 1943.

The first Raymond train station agent, David Pecker, was paid $390 a year. Other agents were G. A. Gilmore, Charles Poore, and Ralph Sanborn. Station Master Poore was a hero for staying in the station and telegraphing other towns for help during the 1892 fire.

Before the train, Raymond was mainly a small farming town. With the construction of the line, more industry came to town and the population grew. Residents sold wood to burn in the trains’ engines. Shoe manufacturing began. Locally produced goods, such as apples, vegetables, lumber, leather goods, and hats were shipped to other places on the train. People from cities like Boston or Lowell traveled by train to spend part of the summer in hotels and summer camps, like the ones on Onway Lake.

If you go to the following website and click on the word “timetable” you’ll see a picture of the train’s timetable.    http://www.rememberthebmrr.info/portsmouth/branch.htm

At the following link, you’ll find a map of the Portsmouth and Concord Railroad.    http://www.history-map.com/picture/004/Portsmouth-Railroad-Concord-and.htm

Until the 1950s and 1960s, passenger trains were how most New Englanders got from town to town over land. People lived where they had access to goods and services nearby, namely established towns and cities, or they lived in the country working the land. This changed after World War II. The presence of highways and less expensive cars encouraged the growth of scattered suburbs and shopping malls. Living in town became less popular and more people moved into houses far from traditional town centers. Railroads carried fewer and fewer people and more and more freight. In the last few years, people have begun to realize that living in the suburbs has drawbacks and commuting in heavy traffic every day is stressful. Living in town has gained in popularity. Passenger trains are on track to become popular once again. All aboard!

Resources for Railroads in Raymond

B&M 1566. "Re: Portsmouth and Concord Railroad." Railroad Network. 31 May, 2012. www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=77&t=83109.

Photo of the Portsmouth Branch (Southern Div.) timetable, which has a link on Zabek, T (below).

Raymond Historical Society and the Railroad Depot." Visit the Historic Station Museums of New Hampshire. (This is a flyer found at the Raymond library with no author, publisher, or date credited on it.)

Raymond Historical Society. A Pictoral History of Raymond, New Hampshire, 1764 to 1976. Raymond Historical Society, 1976.

Zabek, T. "Portsmouth Branch." Remnants of the Boston & Maine Railroad: Documenting History One Station at a Time! 31, May, 2012.  www.rememberthebmrr.info/portsmouth/branch.htm