The immigrant ancestor for the Hills Family of Hudson was Joseph Hills; born in England in 1602 he sailed in 1638 on the “Susan & Ellen” and settled in Charleston, MA (later set off as Malden) where he became active in town affairs. He was a lawyer, leader of the militia, and held many important officers. He later moved to Newbury. In 1645, he served on a committee to set off lots in Nashaway Plantation and In 1648 he wrote the first laws for the colony of Massachusetts. In return for his services to the colony, he received a grant of some 500 acres in what is now Hudson in 1661. Of these acres, 450 ran from a few rods north of the Taylor Falls Bridge, north along the east side of the river beyond Derry Lane to include the site of Hills Garrison. When the Town of Dunstable, MA was chartered all 450 acres were within the boundaries of that town.
Joseph passed away in 1688. By his will he divided the 450 acres into 9 parcels and passed ownership to members of his family. With one exception no settlement occurred on any of these parcels until ownership passed at least one more time and outside the Hills Family. The one exception was the northern most parcel of 89 acres he passed to his son Samuel. By 1710, Nathaniel, Henry, and James, three of Samuel’s sons, built and occupied a garrison house on their father’s land. Nathaniel was about 27, Henry about 22, and James about 13 years old.
By 1721 Samuel deeded the northern half of his land to Henry and the southern half to son James. In 1723 James married Abigail Merrill and a few days later he sold to Samuel Whiting and they moved to Newbury. Some time before 1732 Nathaniel purchased a 900 acre parcel of unsettled land from Jonathan Tyng. This parcel also bordered on the river and was adjacent to and north of what had been his father’s 89 acres. Samuel passed away in 1732.
Some time before 1733 Nathanial and his family moved from the garrison onto his 900 acres. He set up a dwelling about 1/2 mile north of the garrison and near the bank of the river. He later established and operated a ferry across the river, known as Hills Ferry. This was operated by him or one of his descendants until 1827 when the first Taylor Falls Bridge was built.
In 1733 the town of Nottingham, MA was chartered to include all Dunstable land east of the river. In 1734 the town of Litchfield, MA was chartered. This charter established the southern boundary of Litchfield at the northern most part of the Joseph Hills grant. Thus, the acres owned by Henry were in Nottingham, MA. The acres Nathaniel had just purchased were in Litchfield. About 1739 or 1740 Henry sold his land and the garrison to Deacon Roger Chase. Henry then moved 1/4 mile east and established a farm on his brother’s land. By that time none of the Hills Family had any ownership interest in the garrison or the Hills Grant. The families of Nathaniel and Henry were residing on the western part of Nathaniel’s 900 acres. James, his wife and 4 small children had returned to Nottingham, MA and settled on a farm (now 20 Old Derry Road) which he acquired from his brother.
In 1740 the boundary between NH and MA was established and by 1746 Nottingham West, NH and Litchfield, NH were chartered. These charters established the boundary between those two towns as we know it today. During this period of uncertainty over state and town boundaries there were a number of residents in nearby Londonderry which were of the opinion their homes would become a part of Nottingham West. When this did not happen these residents petitioned to be annexed. This became final in 1778 when some 4600 acres of Londonderry became a part of Nottingham West.
Henry Hills remained on his farm until he passed in 1757. A few years later it was conveyed to his nephew, Elijah Hills. Elijah was the grandfather of Alden and the great-grandfather of Dr Alfred K. Hills. Alvirne High School and the surrounding grounds, including the Hills House, are on land which was a part of this farm. As time progressed Henry Hills Jr purchased the farm which is now 34-36 Old Derry Road. Also, Nathaniel Hill Jr established a farm (now 62-64 Old Derry Road) upon part of his father’s land.
From 1661 to 1780 the one constant was the land and the location of the land that Nathaniel, Henry, and James and some of their descendants lived on. Around this many things changed: What state are you in? What town do you live in? Are we being taxed by more that one town? What county seat do we use to record land purchases? In the next few weeks we will be Remembering … some of these properties along and near Old Derry Road. This weeks photo, an aerial view of Garrison Farm, shows the original location of the historic marker for the Hills Garrison. The marker is in the open field behind the barn left of the roadway through the field.