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Blodgett Garrison Marker
Of the four garrisons constructed for the protection of early settlers in Nottingham, Mass, we have discussed the Hills Garrison. Moving south from the Hills garrison was the Taylor Garrison built on land which was originally part of the Joseph Hills grant, passed to a family member and then sold to John Taylor. Very little is known about John Taylor except that the Taylor Falls and thus the Taylor Falls Bridge bear his name. The location of his garrison was not marked by Kimball Webster but was identified by him as behind the Spaulding Farm on Derry Road (now Continental Beauty School) and along side Grand Avenue in the direction of the river.
Moving south the next garrison is the Blodgett Garrison. Kimball Webster placed the site 2.5 miles south of the mouth of the Nashua River and 1/2 the distance between Lowell Road and the river. The marker was placed on the Philip J. Connell Farm in 1905. The Connell Farm was a part of the original 200 acre farm of Joseph Blodgett. Today this is the general area around Fairview Health Care on Hampshire Drive. The granite boulder with a bronze tablet now resides on the lawn of 14-16 Hampshire Drive just east of Fairview.
After Joseph and Dorothy Blodgett settled here their oldest son Joseph was born in Feb 1718; he was the first white child (as opposed to Native American) child born in our town. Both Joseph and Dorothy were born in Chelmsford. Most likely the family traveled up the Merrimack River by canoe to settle their farm. Their descendants became very numerous and includes many distinguished men and women in NH, Mass, and other states.
The last garrison, was located on Fletcher land and was in that part of Nottingham which remained in Massachusetts when the provincial boundary was established. The location is a short distance south of the state in Tyngsborough. The photo of the Blodgett marker is from the Historical Society Collection.
Hills Garrison Marker
Four garrisons were built within the town of Nottingham, MA as a protection against the Indians at the start of or during the time of Lovewell’s War. A garrison consisted of a two-story dwelling surrounded by a stockade style fence with one opening. The second story of the dwelling extended out over the first story so the settlers could look down and fire upon any intruders below.
The earliest and most northerly of these garrisons was settled about 1710 on land then owned by Samuel Hills of Newbury, MA and settled by three of his sons, Nathaniel, Henry, and James. Kimball Webster, town historian, determined the location of the Hills garrison and placed a granite boulder to mark the location in 1901. This marker was originally placed 25 rods east (412 feet) of the Litchfield Road on a farm then owned by Joseph H. LeGalee. Often called Garrison Farm, this farm remained in the LeGalee family for three generations and became a large market garden; it was later operated by Colby Brothers. The stone marker was easily accessible and visible to those working in the fields. As progress occurred and the use of the fields changed to industrial there was concern over the safety of the marker and it’s interference with the development of the area.
In 2008 when Hills Garrison School was completed and so named, the marker was removed from the Garrison Farm location. The photo of the Hills Garrison Marker shown here was taken at its present location along the entry road to Hills Garrison School. There is a mystery about this marker for which I do not have an answer. Three brothers, Nathaniel, Henry, and James built and settled in the garrison about 1710; however, Kimball Webster when he erected the marker only mentions the older 2 brothers, Nathaniel and Henry. Why was James omitted? Could it be because at the time he was just a lad of about 13 years of age?
The Hills Garrison was built upon a 45 acre parcel which Samuel Hills had inherited from his father Joseph in 1688; a part of Joseph’s original 500 acre grant from the province of Massachusetts. Neither Joseph or Samuel settled on their land. But, the ensuing families of Nathaniel, Henry, and James became the foundation of all the Hills development and family in Hudson and many of the surrounding towns. Photo from the Historical Society collection.
Location of First Meeting House
Continuing with the markers of our historic past, this week we visit the Musquash area and the site of the First Meeting House. Shown here is the second of two markers placed by the town Bi-Centennial Committee following the 1933 celebration. It was placed near the No 1 schoolhouse, still standing in 1933, which was also the general location of the first meetinghouse for the town of Nottingham, Mass. Today the marker faces Musquash Road and is easily visible as you enter the Musquash Conservation Area. When you are in the area and look closely behind the marker you will find remnants of the foundation stones of the No 1 school. The 1933 committee searched the area for a suitable boulder and located one in an old wall on the north side of the schoolhouse. The marker on granite boulder with a bronze tablet was placed in June 1934. The bronze has since been removed by vandals and the inscription placed directly into the granite.
Nottingham, Mass was granted a charter, separating it from Dunstable, in 1733. The town was required to establish a meetinghouse and establish a minister within 3 years. Settlements within the town of Nottingham were primarily along the river; but they extended for the full length of the town to Lithcfield on the north and including much of Tyngsboro at the south. Imagine the difficulty the early town had in agreeing upon a center of town and location of the meeting house! Finally, on May 27, 1734 it was voted to build the house on this site and to raise it by June 5! With a schedule like this, I believe the men folk of the town were working on the side frames of the house before this site was selected. About 1 year later they voted to add a pulpit and seats the meeting house. Four different sites were considered before this final selection was made.
Nathaniel Merrill, the first settled minister, was ordained here as a congregational minister in November 1737. His farm was located on the Back Road (now Musquash) 1/4 mile north of this site. He remained here until his passing in 1796. Strictly speaking Rev. Merrill was not settled within 3 years; but, the early residents did not neglect their responsibility. Money was allocated to hire preachers from time to time for short periods until Rev. Merrill was settled in 1737.
Once established little appears in the town records about the meeting house until the settling of the province line in May 1741 and the subsequent incorporation of New Hampshire towns; especially Nottingham West. These boundary changes completely upset any agreements and calculations for a meeting house in the center of town. The town center had just shifted north to about the location of Blodgett Cemetery. Photo from the Historical Society collection.
Town Pound on Pelham Road C 1975
Early towns were required to build and maintain a pound. Any person within the town could impound domestic animals (swine, cattle, horses, sheep…) which were creating damage or running loose on the roadway, the common, or was in violation of local laws. A pound keeper was chosen each year as one of the town officers. Owners of the impounded animals would claim them and pay for any damages, board, or fines.
Our early town records mention pounds as early as 1737 in Nottingham, Mass; then again in 1744 in the District of Nottingham, NH; in 1747 in Nottingham west. The earliest of these was likely built in that part of Nottingham which ended up in Pelham. The others were either not built or constructed of wood and did not last.
In 1759 the town of Nottingham West voted to have a pound built on common land near the house. This was likely on the common near the Blodgett Cemetery. Yes, there was a meeting house and town common in that area; it is now the location of Blodgett Cemetery and the intersection of Lowell and Pelham Roads, at Meineke Car Care.
The pound shown in this weeks photo was erected in 1772 after a vote at the annual town meeting. It was voted to erect a pound on high land between land owned by Nehemiah Hadley and Timothy Smith. Today this location is at the intersection of Pelham and Melendy Roads, on your left after the stop sign as you proceed down Pelham Road toward Bush Hill Road.
A committee of 3 was elected to build it with stone, 33 feet within the walls to a height of 6 feet plus one foot of wood. The pound was completed by September 1772, its date was carved on the gate post. At the next town meeting Timothy Smith was elected keeper of this new pound. This pound was continually used for over 100 years. In 1887, since the pound had not been used for some years the town considered selling it. At the town meeting this was rejected and the voters instead decided to keep it as one of our town’s ancient relics.
This pound stands today, a relic of early times; maintained by our faithful Highway Department. Photo from the Historical Society Collection.
Site of First Town Meeting
In this week’s photo we travel to the south end of Hudson and visit the historic marker for the home of Ensign John Snow and the first town meeting for the town of Nottingham, Mass held May 1, 1733. This marker was placed in 1934 by the town Bi-centennial Committee using funds remaining in their accounts after the celebration was completed. The committee searched the area for a suitable boulder and one was found close to the highway on land then owned by Charles Shunaman near 103 Musquash Road, not far from the site of the Snow homestead. The original marker consisted of a bronze tablet attached to the boulder. Later, after vandals removed the tablet, the inscription was made directly into the stone.
On April 4, 1733 some 3 months after the charter of Nottingham, Mass was issued, an order was directed to Mr Robert Fletcher, a principal inhabitant, giving him the authority to assemble and convene the town for the purpose of choosing town officers to hold until the following March. Mr. Fletcher issues the call for the meeting to be held May 1, 1733 at 10:00 am at the home of Ensign John Snow. At this meeting the inhabitants chose a moderator, clerk, treasurer, 5 selectmen, surveyors, fence viewers (in charge of boundaries and disputes), and hog reeves (warden in charge of wandering swine and appraisal of damages they cause). The 1733 tax list contained 55 men. This may seem like a large population but we must remember, many residents of Nottingham lived outside the area which later became Nottingham West and Hudson. Of these 55, only 18 resided within the boundaries of the present day Hudson.
Ensign John Snow, born about 1667 in Woburn, married Sarah Stevens in 1693. They had 3 children; Elizabeth who died young, Joseph who also resided in Nottingham, and Mary. Little else is known about Ensign John except he was elected the first town treasurer, and a few years after this first town meeting he passed at he age of 68. He is buried in Ford Cemetery not far from his home.
The cellar where his house stood was pointed our to Kimball Webster by Timothy S. Ford many years prior to 1912 and the publication by Webster of the town history. Today this marker can be found on Musquash Road just south of its intersection with Gowing Road and on your left. Look for it along the side of the road near a stone wall. Photo from the Historical Society Collection.
Bronze Tablet Donated by Webster School Students in 1933
While giving tours and talking town history we at the Historical Society frequently hear the question “When was our town established? The bronze tablet pictured here identifies the five birthdays, or founding dates, for our town.
Dunstable, Mass was founded in 1673. Most of the land contained within the present boundaries of Hudson was included within that town, with the exception of about 4,600 acres in the northeast part of Hudson which was then a part of Londonderry. The geography of Dunstable included land on both sides of the river including all or parts of some 14 towns in present day Mass and NH. In the early days of Dunstable land had been granted on the east side of the river but no real settlements occurred until about 1710. We remained a part of Dunstable, Mass until 1733.
As the number of settlers on this side of the river increased they petitioned Mass to be set off as a separate town. This petition was answered on January 4, 1733 when the charter for Nottingham, Mass was granted This town included all Dunstable lands on the east side of the river. The General Court ordered that a Town Meeting be held within 3 months and a minister be settled within 3 years. After survey and much debate the center of the town of Nottingham, Mass was agreed upon and a meeting house built on what is now Musquash Road. The town of Nottingham, Mass remained as such for only 9 years, until 1741.
The ancient boundary between the provinces of NH and Mass was based upon the Merrimack River and the misconception that the river flowed from west to east; with no idea of the abrupt bend northward the river made near Chelmsford. This resulted in some dual grants by the rival provinces of NH and Mass and a boundary dispute which was not settled until 1741. At that time the line was established to run 3 miles north of the Merrimack River from the ocean until reaching a specific point north of Pawtuckett Falls; after that the line ran due west to the Connecticut River. All land south of this line was in Mass. Land to the north was in Nottingham,NH; called by many historians as the District of Nottingham as towns had not yet been incorporated under the laws of The State of NH.
During the time after 1741 a number of smaller New Hampshire towns were spun off from Nottingham and were incorporated within NH. One of these, Nottingham West was incorporated in 1746 and a charter issued July 5, 1746. Nottingham West contained most of the lands of the present town of Hudson, except for those acres in Londonderry and minor adjustments to the boundaries with Windham and Pelham.
We remained as Nottingham West until 1830. At the annual town meeting of 1830 the voters of Nottingham West adopted an article to petition the General Court of NH to alter the name to Auburn or to designate some other name. The name was changed to Hudson July 1, 1830.
Our town has 5 founding dates or birthdays. In 1672 we were established as Dunstable, MA; 1733 as Nottingham, MASS; 1741 as Nottingham, NH; 1740 as Nottingham West, NH; and in 1830 as Hudson, NH. This confuses our celebrations! In 1933 we celebrated the 200th birthday of incorporation of Nottingham, Mass; in 1972, some 39 years later, we celebrated the 300 birthday of the founding of Dunstable! To my knowledge there was never a centennial or bi-centennial celebration for Nottingham West and no centennial celebration for changing name to Hudson in 1830. So, when will our next celebration be? perhaps in the year 2022, some six years from now, when we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Nottingham West?
This tablet is located within the School Administration Building, aka Kimball Webster School, and was donated to the Town by the students of Webster School as part of our 1933 bi-centennial celebration. Photo taken for publication of Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society collection.