Epsom History - East Street

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Road to Settling Epsom, NH

Presented as part of the Town's 275th Anniversary

Old Home Day, August 10, 2002

The Town of Epsom was incorporated in 1727 with land being granted to the taxpayers of Rye, New Castle and Greenland – each person receiving a section of land in proportion to taxes paid in their native town. There were several criteria which had to be met, those being 1) That 20 dwelling houses be built and settle families on them within 4 years; 2) that a house be built for public worship; 3) that one hundred acres each be set aside for a parsonage and a school, as long as peace existed with the Indians during the four years. In the event this was not the case, an additional 4-year extension would be granted. Along with receiving these land grants, these taxpayers of Rye, New Castle and Greenland became immediately responsible for paying the costs of the charter and getting the land surveyed, and were known as proprietors.
At the beginning of 1729, the proprietors voted a committee to survey and divide up the town according to the Charter, and in May 1732 it was voted that a location be selected for building a Meeting House and for settling the 20 families who were to start the town. It was decided that these twenty people each would receive a fifty-acre lot in the section that was set aside for the starting of the settlement, plus thirty acres that would be laid out in another part of the town. A committee was formed to find these twenty men who would be able to pay the five shillings and establish themselves on what is called the original 20 home-lots.
1732 was a busy year for the proprietors. In June the 20 families selected for the home-lots drew them with the following results: No. 1, James Seavey; No. 2, Richard Goss; No. 3, Thomas Berry; No. 4, Daniel Lunt; No. 5, Noah Seavey; No. 6, William Locke; No. 7, Samuel Dowst; No. 8, Zachariah Berry; No. 9 Ebenezer Berry; No. 10, Solomon Dowst; No. 11, Samuel Wallace; No. 12, William Wallace; No. 13, John Blake; No. 14, Josiah Foss; No. 15, Simon Knowles; No. 16, Paul Chapman; No. 17, Joseph Locke; No. 18, Jotham Foss; No. 19, Jedediah Weeks; and No. 20, James Marden. In October of the same year it was “Voted, That the sd town shall be first Laid out in to four Ranges, each one mile deep, Reserving a Road of Four Rods wide between the first and second Range, & between the third and fourth, the Ranges to run the whole Length of the town, the first Range to begin at the south corner.” “Voted, That there be a meeting-house of thirty foot Long and twenty-four feet wide, Imediately Built at the charge of the Propriat, & that Mr. Joshua Brackett, Mr. Willm Lock & Theod. Atkinson, Esq., be a committee to a Gree for the same with any Parson or Parsons shall do it soonest and cheapest.” These 20 lots were laid out along both sides of a road (now Center Hill Road), and each were one hundred and sixty rods in length and fifty rods wide equaling 50 acres.
It was less than a month later that the proprietors met again, this time to draw lots in the four ranges. One hundred and twenty eight men drew the following numbers: No. 1, Nathaniel White; 2, James Seavey; 3, John Odiorne; 4, Benjamin Ball; 5, Israel Mark; 6, Samuel Haines; 7, John Foss; 8, Joshua Brackett; 9, Zachariah Foss; 10, Jonathan Dockam; 11, Richard Jordan; 12, Samuel Weeks; 13, John Underwood; 14, Robert Avery; 15, John Rindge; 16, Richard Tarleton; 17, Henry Trefethen; 18, Thomas Manneren; 19, John Wilson; 20, James Marden; 21, John Othow; 22, Samuel Seavey; 23, John Johnson; 24, John Brackett; 25, Thomas Rand; 26, Alse Clark; 27, Walter Philbrook; 28, Joseph Weeks; 29, Robert Coats; 30, George Wallis; 31, Samuel Haines; 32, Joshua Foss; 33, Mary Randall; 34, Joshua Berry; 35, William Berry; 36, Jeremiah Walford; 37, Samuel Chapman, Samuel Neale, John Hinckson, Samuel Ring; 38, John Card; 39, John Tuckerman; 40, James Berry; 41, Chirstopher Amazeen; 42, Samuel Berry; 43, William Haines; 44, Reuben Mace; 45, John Leach; 46, Nathaniel Berry; 47, Samuel Rand; 48, John Blake; 49, John Philbrook; 50, James Johnson, Ebenezer Johnson; 51, John Yeaton; 52, Elias Philbrook; 53, George Kenston; 54, Joseph Jackson; 55, John Trundy; 56, John Bryant; 57, Jonathan Philbrook; 58, William Wallis Jun.;59, Edward Martin; 60, Daniel Lunt; 61, Sampson Shiefe; 62, William Seavey Jun.; 63, Joseph Simpson; 64, Nehemiah Berry; 65, Joshua Seavey; 66, Samuel Brackett; 67, Robert Goss, Robert Goss, Jun; 68, Samuel Wallis; 69, Samuel Doust; 70, John Johnson; 71, James Chadwick; 72, Christopher Treadwick; 73, Richard Goss; 74, Joshua Weeks; 75, John Frost; 76, Solomon Doust; 77, Barnaby Cruse; 78, James Whiden; 79, James Philpot; 80, Joseph Maloon; 81, John Stevens; 82, Widow Hitches; 83, Nathaniel Rand; 84, Benjamin Parker; 85, Philip Pane; 86, William Kelly; 87, Richard Neale; 88, William Bucknell, Thomas Berry, Isaac Foss; 89, William Perkins, John Berry; 90, Thomas Rand, Jr.; 91, John Youren; 92, Samuel Huggins, Nathaniel Huggins; 93, Foster Trefethen; 94, Colonel Shadrach Walton; 95, Nathaniel Johnson; 96, Benjamin Seavey, Jr.; 97, Joseph Youren; 98, Mathias Haines; 99, Samuel Frost; 100, Deacon John Cate, William Cate; 101, William Seavey; 102, Ebenezer Berry; 103, Mathias Haines; 104, Benjamin Muserve; 105, John Whiden; 106, Henry Pain; 107, Jonathan Odiorne, Esq.; 108, Walter Abbott; 109, John Sherborn; 110, Joseph Hill; 111, William Wallis; 112, Jonathan Weeks; 113, John Brackett; 114, William Jones; 115, Widow Folsom; 116, William Marden; 117, Nathaniel Wilson; 118, Samuel Davis; 119, Daniel Greenough; 120, Joshua Haines; 121, Samuel Seavey; 122, Hugh Reed; 123, Benjamin Seavey; 124, Captain Samuel Weeks; 125, Theodore Atkinson; 126, James Randall; 127, John Neale; 128, Nathaniel Morrell.
Even after all the men had drawn their lots in the different ranges, plus the home-lots and their additional 30 acre lots elsewhere in the town, there was some land left over. Some of this land was on either end of the home-lots, and two thousand acres was in the southerly part of the fourth range, and all became known as “common land.” These lands were later auctioned off as late as the fall of 1765.
When the home-lots were drawn, the northern row were numbered from East to West 1 through 10; the southern row just the opposite from 11 through 20. One must remember that in addition to the 20 home-lots there had to be two additional lots – one for a school, another for a parsonage. Most likely these were originally planned to be put at the eastern end of the home-lots on the common land, but instead they were inserted near a more central point of the home-lots; in effect, home-lot number 7 became a place for the minister and un-numbered, bumping the lot numbers one lot to the east. To make things just a little more complicated, they then took the western most lot (home-lot #10, and attached it to the eastern end near the now Deerfield line. This then made the northern row of home-lots 10, then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, parsonage lot, 7, 8 and 9. The same happened for the southern row of home-lots, with number 11 on the west end being moved to the east end near the Deerfield line. Their new order from West to East would be 12, 13, 14, school lot, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 11.
It appears that things moved rather quickly after the lots were re-numbered as the road dividing the 20 home-lots had been built along with the first Meeting House as shown in the following note from a 1733 proprietors meeting: “Voted, January 17, 1733, that the name of the Street from the Meeting-House upward West Street & Down ward to Notingham from sd Meeting-House East Street.” Also in the record is a request from the proprietors of Canterbury to build a connecting road through Epsom which would appear to be connecting West Street up though what is now Goboro Road. From various sources it is know that this region was not foreign to Indians, though at this time it seemed relatively calm and safe. The owners of the 20 home-lots, with their first rough road and meetinghouse, appeared able to begin to follow the Charter and establish a home and 3 acres of cleared land for farming. The Indians were not to be their first encounter.
As the 20 home-lots began to be worked on, it must have been quite a surprise to find a small section of the town near Sanborn’s Hill to be already occupied. Charles McCoy was one of many Scots-Irish who arrived in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He had property in Chester, New Hampshire in the fall of 1728, which he sold, with wife Mary signing, June 30, 1730. Rev. Jonathan Curtis, who wrote the first history of Epsom in 1823, tells that they had a daughter Mary born while they were living in Epsom about 1731. She lived just short of age 100, and it is almost certain that Rev. Jonathan Curtis’ information was probably first hand from Mary herself as she lived another 5 years past the date of the Curtis history. In a document that survives at the New Hampshire State Archives is this note to Constable Paul Chapman from Epsom Selectmen dated June 26th 1733, which states in part, “Whereas Information is come to us that Mr. Charles McCoy hath come into our town of Epsom to settle with out our leave…to order you the constable to go and warn the sd Charles McCoy out of the town…in fourteen days” which was done the next day as the reply from Constable back to the Selectmen shows.
The immediate outcome of this “warning out” is unknown, but was later resolved as he was still shown “of Epsom” by a deed dated October 29, 1735. He was later town constable for Epsom and held other offices, and his mark on Epsom history was far from over. Charles McCoy is credited with being the first settler in Epsom and it is likely he was. It would seem that Charles McCoy may not have been the only trespasser, as shown in the following note from a proprietors meeting Dec. 19, 1734 - “Dec. 19, 1734: Voted that where as Sundry Persons, whithout the Leave or License, got in upon Sundry tracts of Land within this town ship, and have committed Sundry Tresspases upon Sundry of the Propriat perticular shears, which may, if not Prosecuted, prove Detrymentell to the said town; and whereas it will be attended with some considerable charge to Prosecute on any one of them, which at Present would be to great Burthen for the Prosecutors; therefore voted that in case any of the Propts in whose Shear any trespass is committed will prosecute such trespassers in an action of trespass that it shall be at the charge of the Propriars in proportion to the Land or Shier each Propritor hath in sd town & the Select men for the time being are hereby impowered and Disired to furnish the prosecutor with money for that end.”
Though the home-lots where drawn in 1732, few, if any, of the original proprietors ever lived on them. Records are scant at best, and most of the owners of the home-lots sold, deeded or bequeathed their property with no remaining record. It is apparent that the four year time line for establishing the community was either extended or ignored. Samuel Wallace of Rye was granted home-lot No. 11, which was deeded to his son George Wallace June 1, 1741, “where he now lives” establishing he was residing in Epsom in some type of dwelling before that time. The McClary family was also settled in town early, having purchased several of the original home-lots. Andrew McClary the immigrant settled with his family earlier enough that son John had a dwelling as early as 1740 which still remains. John Blake of Greenland was an original proprietor and was “of Epsom” December 2, 1743, and was moderator of a proprietors meeting held in Epsom that year. His son Samuel, according to Rev. Jonathan Curtis’ history, was in Epsom in 1733 at age fifteen, and a note to that effect appears on his tombstone. John Blake Jr., brother to Samuel, had a son born in Epsom in 1741, said to have been the first white male born in the town. Historian John Mark Moses, whose 4 part “Early Settlers of Epsom” appeared in the Granite Monthly magazine, speculates that about this time members of the Locke family may also have been in Epsom. A note in the proprietor’s meeting of May 26, 1736 sheds some light on when houses were constructed. It reads: “That Mr. Joshua Brackett, Willm Haines, Willm Wallis and Elias Philbrook a committee to agree with one or more persones to build a saw mill at Epsom, the undertakers to have the priviledge of supplying the town’s people with boards for ten years, who are not to buy of any others till the ten years are expired, and the owners of the mill are to sell the boards at the prices they are sold at in other new towns, provided they keep boards to supply the town’s people.” With no sawmill prior to this time, it would seem any dwelling would have been relatively crude, and would indicate that better homes were not built prior to 1736.
The decade of the 1740’s probably seemed pretty bright when it began. Several families were starting a life in the town; early roads were being built; a meetinghouse was in place, and a proprietors meeting was held for the first time in the town proper. All this was still far short of meeting the 20 family quota outlined in the charter. There was no minister. In 1742 the proprietors authorized 30 pounds for hiring a minister. In 1743 it was raised to 40 pounds. In 1750 it was voted fifty pounds old tenor. In 1760 it was one hundred pounds. Whatever promise seemed ahead of them in 1740, the French War of 1745 stopped. Indians once again became a real threat, some of the families left town, and danger faced those that remained. A small garrison was located on the McClary property, near what was later known as the Carter Place, but the best security was the Nottingham Garrison (actually located in what became part of Deerfield, NH), but it was quite a bit further away. The most well known episode of Epsom residents involving the Indians was that with the wife of Charles McCoy.
Rev. Jonathan Curtis in his Epsom History, has perhaps the best account of what transpired, probably first hand from Mary McCoy. Most of it is repeated in the John Dolbeer History of Epsom from the Hurd’s “History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties,” so here I will relate how the story appears in Potter’s “History of Manchester.”
As can be seen by the that account, the name of McCoy becomes forever linked with Epsom Town History. The second tallest mountain retained his name, and a second mountain, called Nat’s mountain, was named for his son who got lost there. This, along with the capture of his wife Isabella (by deed in 1730 his wife was Mary – his wife that was captured was Isabella – his wife by deed when he left Epsom was Mary, which would be three wives throughout this period) and his early ‘warning out’ make him perhaps the town’s most colorful figure.
By 1750 the Indian threat was gone. The proprietors only met once in 1749, but on August 30 of 1750 they met and seemed to want to get back on track as they voted “That Doct. John Weeks And Francis Lock Bee a Committe To See whather The men That had the Twenty And 30 Akers Lotes Have Fulfiled Acording to the Charter and agreement.” Home-lots continued to be bought and sold, and in 1750 the Wallaces, McClarys, Blakes, Lockes and McCoys remained in town. Finally some of the other home-lots started to show signs of life. William Wallace of Greenland now owned two of the home-lots, and on one of them his son-in-law appeared, a Frenchman by the name of William Blazo. In 1749 James Marden of Rye deeded to his son Nathan one of the fifty acre lots. John and Samuel Libbey bought home-lot No. 8 in 1742 along with shares in a sawmill and remained in town for a time. In 1751 the Allen family came to Epsom, John and Jude. Thomas Bickford was “of Epsom” in 1754; Benson Ham in 1758, and the McCoy’s sold out to the Sanborns in 1760. These core families became the life of East Street as Epsom finally began to grow.
Somewhere through this period the original meetinghouse disappears, as the following items appear in the Epsom town books:
“EPSOM, JUNE 25, 1761.
“At a legal meeting held in Epsom at the house of Capt. Andrew McClary, on thursday, the twenty-fifth of this 1761 instant June, according to notification dated June the 20, the free holders met according to notification and thus
“1. Voted Capt. John McClary moderator.
“2. Voted Mr. John Tucke to be their gospel minister.
“3. Voted one hundred acres of Land as a settlement as the charter allowed 50 acres laid out and the other 50 in some Convenient place, reserving the priviledge for seting of a meeting house and what of this Lot is taken for seting the meeting be made up in the other Lot.
“4. Voted thirty pounds starling as a salary for the first two years, reckoning dolers at the Rate of a 6 pt doler.
“5. Voted That an adition of five pounds be made to sd minister next after the first two years are expired.
“6. Voted That thirty cords of wood be annually cut and hauled to his house.
“7. Voted abraham lebee, Isaac lebee sen., John Blake, george wallis, cap. John mcclary, ephraim Locke, Samuel blake, Left. Eliphlet Sanborn, nathan marden be a committee to present a call to Mr. John tucke.
“8. Voted six hundred pounds, old tenor, towards building a minister’s house, to be paid in Labour if he accepts the call.
“Town meeting ended.
August 14, 1761, it was “Voted That the meeting house shall stand on the same Lot where the old meeting house formerly stood, at or near the Burying place.”
August 12, 1761, it was
“Voted Nathan Marden, George Wallis, ens. Thomas Blake, Ephraim Locke be a committee to provide fro the ordernation and to render account of the same to the Select men.
“Voted that the charge of the ordernation be paid by the town.
“Voted Benjamin Blake, benson ham, amos blazo be a committee to assist the constable and tithing men in keeping order on the ordernation day.”
The new meetinghouse was still to be built, even though the new minister was engaged. The town appealed to the Legislature for some relief, and those who signed provide a nice list of those who inhabited the town in 1762.
“To his Exelency Benning Wentworth, Esq.,, Capt. General, Govenour & Commander in Chief in and over his Majesty’s Province of New Hampshire, and to the Honable Counceill & house of Representatives now Convened in General Assembly at Portsmouth.
“the Petition of his Majesty’s Good Subjects, Inhabitants of the township of Epsom, in said Province, humbly beg leave to remonstrate our Very Poor Distressing circumstances to your Compassion, & Most Earnstly Crave your Pity, and pray your Honours to Relieve us from our unsuportable Burden of Province tax under which we are made to Grone, and Which we think we Cannot Possibly survive Under unless your Honours will be Pleased to Mitigate and free us from.
“Gentlemen our Numbers are Very Small & we are very much Exposed to Losses; our young Cattle, Sheep and Swine are often Destroyed by Wild beasts, and, further, we have Lately Selected a minister among us which we are afraid we shall not be able to Support; by Reason of the Poor circumstances we are now under we are not able to Build a Meeting Hous; that our Minister is obliged to Preach in some of our Dwelling houses; the tax which was Laid on us the Last year many of us were obliged to hire the money to Pay; our Necessities are very Grate by Reason of the Scarcity of Provisions we have been obliged to Lay out all that we have got for years Past & are now much in Debt. this is to entreat your Honours to take of the heavy tax which we now Labour under, & Restore us the money we Paid Last year, & your Petitioners Shall every Pray as in Duty Bound:
“John McClary, George Walles, Nathan Marden, John Black, Ephraim Lock, Reuben Sanborn, Jun., Eliphlet Sanborn, Reuben Sanborn, James Wood, Abraham Lebbee, Abraham Walles, Benjamin Blake, Thomas Blake, Isaac Lebbee, Isaac Lebbee, Jun., Reuben Lebbee, Amos Blaso, Samul Bickford, Samuel Black, Thomas Hins, John Blaso, Ephraim Bery, William Blake, Benson Ham, John MCGaffey, Andrew McClary, Abner Evans.
“In council, June 24th, 1762: Read & ordered to be sent down to the Honble Assembly.

Again the meetinghouse made the agenda.
April 19, 1764, it was
“Voted, that a meeting-house be built in Epsom, the length fifty feet and the bredth forty feet.”
“Voted, Isaac Libby, Sen., Thomas Blake, John McClary, George Wallace and Nathan Marden be a committee to carry on the work of said building, and they shall have full power to act and do in behalf of the town in the best manner they can, and take and render accounts to such as shall have authority to demand the same.
“Also, sd committee to vandue of the pews in sd meeting-house or the privilege for sd pews & to take the security for the same.”
“Voted, on thousand pounds, O.T., to be paid when sd committee shall call for the same.”
There was no further record of when the committee finished or when the new meetinghouse was completed, though in May of 1764, pews were sold by auction. The church records gives two hints in records of Rev. Tucke of a Church meeting “in the House of God” was December 5, 1766; and “Novr 14, 1765 Smart Storm of Snow & Rain bad travilling Meet in the Meeting House Thanksgiving Day.”
On the 18th of June in 1765, at the home of Andrew McClary, the issue of the school was discussed.
“1. Voted, John McClary, Esq., Moderator.
“2. Voted, that the bigness of sd house, twenty-one in Length & seventeen in breadth.”
The meeting then adjourned to the 25th of June inst., at the same place, at which time the following votes were passed:
“1. Voted that the school-house be built on the Lot comonly called the Scool Lot, whare the Select men think proper.
“2. Voted that the cost of sd house be paid in Land or money.
“3. Voted that sd house be bid of at vando.
“Voted Nathan Marden, Vando master, sd house bid of to Ens. Mcgafey, at 312 O.T., to raise bord, shingle, clabord & flore.”
Epsom was growing. The Canterbury road continued to expand, the current Black Hall Road was constructed, and families headed to New Rye and Short Falls. Mills continued to be built, and farmland readied. Some of the original settlers were aging and being buried at “the old burying ground” near the meetinghouse….the first being William Blazo August 14, 1761.
With the town growing, the school addressed, the building of the meetinghouse, and the hiring of Rev. Tuck, the town finally met the original specifications of the charter. To learn more about the growth of the town and some of its people, it is possible to examine more closely how the different home-lots grew and changed hands.