History of the Town of Peterborough, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire

This history is given to the public as it is. That it would have been better with more research and a longer time devoted to its preparation, there can be no doubt; but the hastening years and the attendant infirmities of age admonished the writer (now past seventy-five years) that the work must soon be completed, if ever.

The work was undertaken at the earnest solicitation of friends who thought it might prove an agreeable and useful occupation, as I withdrew from the labors of an active profession; and it has now for five years engaged almost my entire attention. It has proved a work of great labor. Till I commenced my researches, I did not realize my own ignorance, nor the ignorance of others of my own age, of the early history of the town. The old men of the second generation, so familiar with all the early affairs of the town, were gone. Every succeeding generation knows less of its predecessors, and the men of the third generation were found to be sadly deficient in any definite knowledge of their ancestors; so there has been little or nothing to my hand for this history. Mr. Dunbar's history is barely a sketch, which it purports to be, and is of very little value in an extended history like this. The town records have gone on uninterruptedly to the present time, but they furnish little material for history; they do little else than furnish the dates of certain events. No town papers of any kind are found preserved, till near the beginning of the present century. The invoice is not found till 1792, but can then be traced down to the present time. All these sources of information have been carefully explored and used.

This history was begun too late, not till the second generation had all passed away, and the third had become old men. It is unfortunate that the second generation was suffered to pass away before any one had been found to put in a permanent form the large knowledge which it possessed relating to the men and events in the early history of Peterborough. I have found many descendants of the early settlers of the town lamentably deficient in the history of their own families, being able to go no farther back than their grandfathers. I have had, in numerous instances, to make up the first and often the second generations of these families as I could from other sources.

At the present time, tradition seems to have died out. Many large families have become extinct, strangers having come into their places, who knew not the fathers; while other families have been greatly reduced by emigration and removal. Altogether, such changes have taken place that it becomes almost impossible to trace back the history of the early times.

A great loss was experienced in the destruction of the church records in the conflagration of Dea. Morison's house, in 1791. We can never know much concerning the establish- ing of the church, or of the ministries of Messrs. Morrison and Annan. This has been a great misfortune, as the history of the church in those times was the history of the town. No private diaries and no other written record of individuals have come down to us as they have done in many other towns, to throw light on these times. The fathers were men to act rather than write, and so our record comes short, no one having recorded their deeds.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I.
Grant and Laying Out of the Town in 1738, 17-30

CHAPTER II.
Account of the Scotch-Irish, 31-38

CHAPTER III.
Settlement, 39-50

CHAPTER IV.
Petition for Incorporation, 1759, 51-57

CHAPTER V.
Early Settlements and Early Settlers, 58-68

CHAPTER VI.
Home Life, 69-73

CHAPTER VII.
Home Manufactures, 74-77

CHAPTER VIII.
Amusements and Social Habits, 78-82

CHAPTER IX.
Ecclesiastical Affairs, 83-102

CHAPTER X.
Education, 103-112

CHAPTER XI.
Libraries and Town Library, 113-123

CHAPTER XII.
Professional History, 124-137

CHAPTER XIII.
Municipal, 138-143

CHAPTER XIV.
Military Affairs, 144-175

CHAPTER XV.
Pauperism, 176-180

CHAPTER XVI.
Highways, 181-194

CHAPTER XVII.
Manufactures, 195-207

CHAPTER XVIII.
Topography, 208-219

CHAPTER XIX.
Cemeteries and Burials, 220-226

CHAPTER XX.
Miscellaneous, 227-243

CHAPTER XXI.
Conclusion, 244-252

Report of the Proceedings at the Centennial Celebration in 1839, 253-339

Appendix, 340-360

Genealogical and Historical Register.

Index

 

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The object of history is to develop the causes, the first germs or movement of things, as well as to relate the events themselves, that occur in consequence. Local history is perhaps, in many respects, much less important than general, but nevertheless it is of great value to the localities to which it pertains, and to the descendants of those concerned in the historical record.