Hampshire Genealogy and History is
a web site for family tree and history researchers of
people and places in the State of NH.
A BRIEF GLOSSARY OF EARLY NEW HAMPSHIRE (and New England)
this glossary is in no way a complete listing
of all terms used in early New Hampshire history. If
you know of a term you would like to see here, please
let me know.
(also known as the "Patriot Test") -
In New Hampshire the "Association Test,"
or "Articles of Association," were written
by the New Hampshire Committee of Safety, under
the chairmanship of Meshech
Weare. Generally the wording was similiar
to the following: "We, the Subscribers,
do hereby solemnly engage and promise, that we
will, to the utmost of our power, at the Risque
of our Lives and Fortunes, with arms, oppose the
Hostile proceedings of the British Fleets and
Armies, against the United States Colonies."
The document refers to a resolution passed by
the Continental Congress (March 14, 1776) which
called for two actions: the signatures of every
adult male who was willing to take arms against
the British, and the names of all who refused
to sign. Their signature indicated their obligation
to oppose the "hostile proceedings"
of the British fleets and armies. The returns
of these documents gave the signers of the Declaration
assurance that their acts would be sanctioned
and sustained by the citizens of our country.
Town officers in New Hampshire were requested
to obtain these signatures, who in turn sometimes
selected a local "Committee of Safety,"
to carry out this order. Only white males above
twenty-one years of age ("lunaticks, idiots,
and negroes excepted") were asked to sign
this document. Not everyone qualified to sign
this document agreed to do so, and not all
of those who refused to sign should be considered
"Tories" or "Loyalists."
of original document and discussion regarding
same - PDF file]
(lawyer) - a professional person authorized
to practice law; conducts lawsuits or gives legal
advice. From New Hampshire's earliest days, attorneys
practiced here. In 1716, a
collection of law books belonging to the provincial
government formed the first state library collection.
Livermore was New Hampshire's first Attorney
General (from 1785 to 1786) and Chief Justice
of the NH Supreme Court (from 1782 to 1789). In
1845 Levi Woodbury (1798-1851, born Francestown
NH) was appointed a justice to the Supreme Court
of the United States. Daniel
Webster, one of New Hampshire's most famous
orators, practiced law in New Hampshire. Nathan
Clifford, born in Rumney NH, was the 19th
United States Attorney General (1846-1848). Amos
Tappan Ackerman (born in NH in 1821) was the
34th U.S. Attorney Geneal (1870-1872); Harlan
Fiske Stone (b 1872 in Chesterfield NH) was
the 52nd Attorney General of the U.S. (1924-1925);
French Smith (b 1917 in Wilton NH) was the
74th Attorney General of the United States (from
1981-1985). In October 1864, Lincoln appointed
P. Chase as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme
Court, a position he held until his death in 1873.
Salmon P. Chase (born in Cornish NH), as one of
his first acts as Chief Justice of the United
States appointed John
Rock as the first African-American attorney
to argue cases before the Supreme Court (1865).
New Hampshire's first woman lawyer was Marilla
Ricker (1840-1920). She was admitted to the
bar of the supreme court of the District of Columbia
in 1882, and
opened the New Hampshire bar to women in July
1890, when she was admitted to the bar of
the state. Northwood NH-born Ella Louise Knowles,
who studied under Burnham & Brown of Manchester
NH, was admitted to practice law in Montana on
1 January 1890. There she became the first female
assistant attorney general of the state in 1893.
Winifred McLaughlin (on one web site noted
as the first woman 'admitted' to practice law
in New Hampshire on June 30, 1917, however Marilla
Ricker appears to have that honor) was one of
the earliest women attorneys in NH. Linda
Stewart Dalianis is the first woman to hold
a seat on the New Hampshire Supreme Court (appointed
by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in the year 2000). Kelly
A. Ayotte, the current (2006) Attorney General
of NH, has the distinction of being the first
woman and youngest attorney general in New Hampshire.
H. Souter, a resident of Weare NH, became
a chief justice of the United States Supreme Court
in October 1990. [He was born in Melrose MA].
-- a simple or quick- bread cooked on a hearth,
or in a frying pan.
- As early as 16 June 1787 (and probably much
earlier), beekeeping (or apiculture as
it is now called) was practiced in New Hampshire.
A beekeeper is a person who tends bees and uses
them to pollinate crops and to produce honey,
propolis, and beeswax.
bug - Cimex lectularius, a
bug known to frequent the sleeping area of their
"host," biting, then sucking blood from
them in order to continue their life cycle. This
bug was probably brought to colonial America by
European immigrants. Known to mankind as far back
as Aristotle (and possibly before), Infestation
was prevalent in Europe and the United up until
World War II. The incidence has recently (in the
past 2-3 years) dramatically, possibly due to
the east of international travel, and the prohibition
of deadly chemicals that once were used to kill
them, but also had an adverse effect on human
beings. There has been a recent increase in bedbug
infestations in New Hampshire, as is the trend
- tiny annoying insects that occur in large numbers
in the spring and early summer months in New Hampshire
(and other northern states), especially in rural
areas. They breed in our moving water, such as
rivers, creeks and streams.
A mark, usually on a tree, designed to indicate
the direction of a trail. In early days, marked
trees were often the only indication used to locate
the directions to an area, or newly defined town.
- a location, but most frequently a building where
fabric and sometimes straw hats were whitened
or cleaned. In the case of fabric, a dye works
was often a component. New Hampshire's many cloth
mill compounds had such a building.
- in New Hampshire colonial days, before refrigeration,
a cellar was built to store food, and keep certain
food items cool (sometimes called a "root
- a hearty soup made with salt pork, using cream
or milk as the base, and including various types
of salt-water fish and seafood. Historically it
was thickened with crushed crackers or flour.
See article, "New
Hampshire Glossary: Chowder" at Blog:
Cow Hampshire. Includes recipes used by New Englanders
to make Chower (or "Chouder") in 1751
- a meal that may have originated with the native
peoples ("feasts of shells") and includes
"baking" (really steaming) clams, lobsters
and other vegetables, in a large stone and seaweed
lined pit. See my blog, Cow Hampshire for more
details, through the hypertext link.
token - a small coin used by the Presbyterian
Church, including parishes in the American colonies,
from the 1770s to the early 1900s. The pastor
would visit with families of his church, examine
their "spirit soundness," and then issue
them a token that allowed them to receive communion.
No token, no communion. [click the link to
read more and see a photo example]
- in early times, an elected official of a town,
with the responsibility of calling ("warning")
town meetings, keeping the peace, and collecting
taxes. He was elected during town meeting, had
the power to arrest and attach goods of delinquent
taxpayers, enforce "warnings out" issued
by the selectmen, and was expected to serve without
pay unless excused from service. Fines, punishment,
restoration of property, and payment of debts
were matters handled by the constable with warrants
issued by a local magistrate. In the early records
of the town of Goffstown, each constable was paid
$10.00 per year, excluding expenses. Constables
were the precursors of the current police departments.
In 1808 the term "Police Officer" first
appears in Portsmouth, NH records. The early records
of the NH
State Police, designated them as "Constable(s)
of the State."
- A cordwainer was a boot and shoemaker, and is
sometimes called a "cobbler." Before
the 16th century, a cobbler was considered a repairer
only, and sometimes was prohibited by law from
actually making shoes. After 1700 the term cordwainer
was rarely used, bowing to the more common term,
shoemaker. The basic equipment he needed was a
shoemaker's bench, tools, and leather. By the
1600s, The shoemaker's bench was a combination
bench and tool box. This way a shoemaker could
pick up and carry his workshop from home to home,
or home to shop. The workbench consisted of a
bench with a box structure on one end, that was
actually a small chest of drawers in which he
stored his awls, marking wheels, sole knifes,
small hammers and other tools along with pieces
of leather and lengths of waxed hemp or linen
"cord" that he worked with.Instead of
producing an inventory of shoes (such as we see
today in our stores), shoemakers waited until
a request was made. Sometimes the customer provided
the material needed, which lowered the final cost
of the shoes.With the advent of large-scale shoe
manufacturing in America, the profession of shoemaker
became a less-needed occupation. Cobblers, or
shoe-repairers, held their ground a little longer,
but they too are now few and far between. Read
more about cordwainers at Blog: Cow Hampshire
- (pronounced "CO-ahss" with two syllables)
- a county in New Hampshire, established December
24, 1803, taken from Grafton County, one of the
five original counties of the State. At the time
of establishment, it contained the original towns
of Dalton, Whitefield, Bretton Woods, Bartlett,
Adams, Chatham, Shelburne Addition, Durand, Kilkenny,
Jefferson, Lancaster, Millsfield, Northumberland,
Stratford, Wales' Gore, Cockburne, Colebrook,
Stewartstown, Piercy, Paulsburg, Mainsborough,
Dummer, Errol, Cambridge and Success, with a population
of about 3,000 in 1803. The name "Coos"
is derived from the Abenaki dialect--the word
"Cohos," or "Coo-ash" signifying
'pines." The tribe occupying this region
was known as the 'Coo-ash-aukes,' or 'dwellers
in the pine tree country."
- a location where cranberries are grown, in beds
layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. Cranberries
are one of North America's three native fruit,
growing on low-lying vines. These small red berries
were used by the Native Americans before the Europeans
arrives, called sassamenesh (by the Algonquin)
and ibimi (by the Wampanoag and Lenni-Lenape).
The aboriginal people made pemmican, probably
American's first "fast-food" (so called).
American whaling ships were known to carry cranberries
to ward off scurvy.
- (or deer keeper) an elected position in early
New Hampshire towns; this official was expected
to control the illegal killing of deer when these
animals became scarce in the area, and tracked
- aka "Old Dunstable; The town of
Dunstable was created by the colony of Massachusetts,
but in 1741 transferred to the colony of New Hampshire.
Nearly all the territory embraced within the bounds
of the present Hillsborough County, New Hampshire,
originally comprised a portion of the old town
of Dunstable, which was granted by Massachusetts
October 16, 1673 (O.S.), and embraced the present
town of Tyngsborough, the east part of Dunstable,
a narrow gore on the east side of Pepperell and
a tract in the northeast part of Townsend, Mass.,
and the towns of Litchfield, Hudson, Merrimack,
portions of Londonderry, Pelham and nearly all
the present towns of Nashua and Hollis and parts
of Amherst, Milford and Brookline, in New Hampshire.
marks - a "mark" or distinctive
pattern was placed on a domestic animal's ear,
by its owner to identify his own animals. Marks
were commonly created by cropping, notching, or
splitting an animal's ear. These marks are often
recorded in public records and sometimes included
a description of the color, size, and special
characteristics of a particular animal. This mark
was registered with the clerk of the court, or
the town clerk, and ears were kept when an animal
was butchered as proof of ownership. Ear marking
was the precursor to animal
branding on western ranches. Nowadays ear
tags or tatoos are often used instead.
regarding religious matters.
- in colonial times this was an alcoholic drink,
usually served warm, and traditional at Christmas
time by about 1815; the name possibly coming from
the combination of ingredient words egg and
- a select tax collected on goods and commodities
made or sold within a country or State and on
licenses granted for certain activities. This
is sometimes also called an excise duty.
When we speak of colonial excise taxes, historians
often think of the excise duties imposed on the
American colonies by the European countries who
- an elected position in early New Hampshire townships.
They arbitrated boundary disputes between adjacent
landowners, and were responsible for inspecting
each resident's allotted portion of the common
fence and any particular [individual] plots to
see that regulations were followed. . Settlers
were usually directed to fence the areas holding
animals in order to keep them contained, and also
were directed to fence gardens and crop fields
in order to keep out the animals.
- an elected town position whose responsibility
it was to take animals that were stray or loose
to the pound, in order to avoid damage to resident's
- a plant used to make thread, and a cloth called
linen.In colonial times the colonists mostly used
cotton and flax for weaving because the English
would not send them sheep or wool. They could
get one cotton crop each fall. Flax was harvested
in the summer. Women and girls spun wool and flax
so that it could be woven into fabric or knitted
into socks, hats, scarves, and mittens. They sometimes
brought yarn to weavers to have cloth woven and
they used the cloth to make clothing and sacks.
Edwin Tunis in his book on Colonial Living (New
York: The World Publishing Company, 1957), says
of flax, It took about twenty operations,
all laborious, to reduce the plant to a state
that would allow its fibers to be spun.
for this process]
- Frost heaves are changes in the earth that result
in ground distress such as bumps, potholes, dents,
ruptures, cracks and creases. Usually frost heaves
occur in the northern states. Read more at link.
- a colonial fortified building.
- in New Hampshire's colonial times a "gore"
was the name for a strip of land not large enough
to create an entire township. This area was created
by a surveyor's misjudgment, or re-adjustments
of boundary lines. When discovered, New Hampshire's
governor sometimes granted the "gore"
to someone who had performed a personal service
for him, or who was a friend. Read
about "Dame's Gore" at Blog: Cow
- in colonial times a gore was the name for a
strip of land not large enough to create an entire
township. This area was created by a surveyor's
misjudgment, or re-adjustments of boundary lines.
When discovered, New Hampshire's governor sometimes
granted the "gore" to someone who had
performed a personal service for him, or who was
a friend; Also SEE Article: New
Hampshire Missing Places, Dames Gore -- Blog:
chief executive of the region now known as New
Hampshire. This position was orignally appointed
by the King of England. After the American Revolution,
this became an elected position. As chief executives,
governors were responsible for executing colonial
laws, administering justice, and appointing most
administrative and judicial officers. As commanders
in chief, they were responsible for provincial
defense and diplomatic relations with the Indians
and the other colonies. As one of three branches
of the legislature, they had veto power over all
laws and took an active role in the legislative
process. Finally, they held the exclusive power
to grant lands from the enormous royal or proprietary
domains. The governor's council, served as an
advisory body whose approval was required for
most executive actions, and in a few colonies
they acted as a superior court.In 1631, Captain
Thomas Wiggin served as the first governor of
the Upper Plantation (comprising modern-day Dover,
Durham and Stratham). In 1679 this Upper Plantation
became the "Royal Province" with John
Cutt as governor.The
"Royal Province" continued until 1698
when it came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts
with Joseph Dudley as Governor. In 1741 New Hampshire
returned to its royal provincial status with a
governor of its own, Benning Wentworth, who was
its governor from 1741 to 1766. Jeanne
Shaheen was the first woman to be elected
Governor in the State of New Hampshire. [SEE Colonial
& Royal Governors of New Hampshire] and
Governors of New Hampshire]
a facility used to grind grain into flour; the
operator needed skills in carpentry, stone masonry,
math, and mechanics in order to master the day-to-day
operation of same. Mills were essential for survival,
and the miller was an important man in any community.
Before there were grist mills, settlers ground
their grain by hand. This was time-consuming,
inefficient, and the results made lumpy porridge
and bread. The grist mill was a major advancement.
Most were built beside streams, where dams could
be built to regulate water flow, or by a waterfall,
where the flow of water could turn a paddle wheel,
which was connected via an elaborate system of
gears and shafts to a pair of mill stones. Grain
was put between two millstones, crushed, and ground
into flour. The waterwheel was a simple and cheap
source of power.
- an elected position in early New Hampshire townships.
Early settlers often let livestock graze in the
woods around their fields. Even if these animals
were fenced, early fences were often inadequate
to restrain stray animals. As a result, each town
chose a hog reeve, who assumed custody of livestock
that strayed into cultivated fields. Wandering
livestock were called "estrays," they
were "taken up," and they often were
taken to the "pound," where their owners
could retrieve them after paying a fine (usually
small). This position was also responsible for
appraising of damages by stray swine, and to order
- a legal charter given to a township, and/or
organization (such as town churches and libraries),
giving them certain legal rights (such as the
ability to elect officers, and collect taxes or
dues). In earliest days this designation was conferred
by the governor and/or governor's council, and
later by state legislature.
- "intervale" is a word unique to New
England. It is used to describe low-lying meadow
land, usually along a river, and particularly
alluvial land (or land made by deposits from the
running water) that is more fertile, at least
at first. It comes from the more common word "vale,"
which is a valley coursed by a stream. They are
usually level plains.The word "intervale,"
was one that was "mapped" by Dr. Hans
Kurath, linguistic professor at Ohio State University,
and later Brown University, to create the "Linguistic
Atlas of New England." His study showed that
although the word was common in the 1940s, by
the 1960s it was less known. This
would actually make sense. By the 1960s the intervale
land along New Hampshire's larger rivers was no
longer the rich, alluvial land that the first
settlers found. In
New Hampshire there is a village called Intervale,
contained within the township of Bartlett. Bartlett
includes the villages of Glen, Lower Bartlett
and Intervale, in the White Mountains region.
my blog: Cow Hampshire for an article regarding
- a colonial coin - see "New
Hampshire Glossary: Pistereens and Johannes,"
- Blog: Cow Hampshire
- a pancake made primarily of corn; not a common
product of New Hampshire - see
of the peace - The lowest level of the
colonial judiciary consisted of local judges called
justices of the peace or magistrates. They were
appointed by the colony's governor. At the next
level in the system were the county courts, the
general trial courts for the colonies. Appeals
from all courts were taken to the highest level
-- the governor and his council. Grand and petit
juries were also introduced during this period
and remain prominent features of the state judicial
systems.The justice of the peace was expected
to "fulfill the duties of government and
to maintain the peace." He executed deeds,
wills, and other legal documents, and acted as
a justice in the trial of causes." He also
helped to settle disputes within the town, and
the community honored his decisions.
- Metacom, (aka Philip) second son and
successor of Massasoit, sachem (chief) of the
Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans, brother of
Philip's War - The series of raids
and skirmishes known as King Philip's War raged
through the towns and villages of New England,
1675-76. This "war" had a profound impact
on Indian-Colonist relations throughout colonial
America and beyond. [SEE "Soldiers
in King Philip's War" ]
- also called "lamper," it is a "jawless
fish" found in New Hampshire rivers. Early
New Hampshire colonists considered them an important
part of their diet. Today they are considered
parasites, but also as good bass fishing bait.
See article in Blog:
- an American shrub that produces spring flowers.
It is not native to the United States. The purple
variety was brought to the American colonies about
or after 1683. The Purple Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
was designated New Hampshire's official state
flower in 1919. Governor Wentworth lilacs can
be found in Portsmouth NH, and are considered
by some to be the oldest living lilacs in North
article, Blog: Cow Hampshire.
- a term used to decribe a type of poltergeist,
also called the "Stone-Throwing Devil,"
that reportedly harrassed a New Castle New Hampshire
family, and their houses guests, in 1682.
- A bird found in New Hampshire, along with Canada,
Greenland, Alaska and other northern American
states. In Abenaki language, they were called
"Medawihla." They are known for their
odd bird calls. The population of the Common Loon
(Gavia immer) is decreasing in New Hampshire due
to milder winters, and their ingestion of lead
- this occupation been important in New Hampshire
since the first sawmill was built on the Salmon
Falls River in 1631. Most of the timber cut now
is used in paper production. The first homes were
either "lean-to's" or made of logs.
Even after lumber mills were built in the towns,
often only the wealthier citizens built the early
"framed" houses from sawed boards. SEE
"surveyor of wood and lumber" (below)
- establishments engaged in the mechanical or
chemical transformation of materials or substances
into new products. These products may be "finished,"
that is, ready for utilization or consumption,
or it may be "semi-finished" to become
a raw material for further manufacturing. New
Hampshire emerged as a major manufacturing state
in the late 1800s, however it did so at the expense
of the traditional family hill farm. New Hampshire
was the first state to make special provision
for the promotion of industry. This was shortly
after the Revolutionary War. While early industrial
economy was dominated by the textile and shoe
industries (a good example being the Amoskeag
Mill in Manchester, once the largest textile mill
in the world, there has been in recent years a
tremendous increase in electrical, light metal
and computer products. Textile manufacturing decreased
in the late 20th century as competition paying
lower wages appeared in Southern states. Most
of the manufacturing industries are concentrated
in the Merrimack Valley. Today
New Hampshire is one of the most highly industrialized
states in the Union when one considers the percentage
of total population engaged in industry. Some
of New Hampshire's major manufacturing cities
are Manchester, Nashua and Concord. Also Portsmouth,
Dover, Keene, Claremont, Lebanon, Laconia and
Berlin -- the latter being a prominent pulp and
of wood and bark - an elected town position,
whose responsibility it was to inspect and measure
firewood and bark brought into the town for sale
to insure correct quantity and grade.
- a building erected by residents of a town that
was originally used for religious services and
official citizen meetings. Many of these earliest
buildings were composed of logs (as opposed to
a "frame" building). In New Hampshire,
the wording of the document incorporating a township,
usually included a requirement that a meeting
house be built within a specified time of settlement.
Prior to the erection of this building, meetings
were often held in barns or homes of the local
residents. Early town meetings were also religious
affairs. Laws were passed on attending and supporting
the church and observing the Sabbath.
an individual who acted as chairman of, and regulated
the conduct of, town meetings, ensuring fair proceedings.
By New Hampshire law, the first order of business
at any town meeting was the election of a moderator.
stock - a livestock term usually referring
to oxen or heifers, and excluding milking stock.
These cattle were often used used as payment and
barter. The term "livestock" would refer
to neat cattle, horses, mules, asses, sheep and
- a wooden device used to measure the length of
thread or yarn. One full winding around the niddy-noddy
equaled two yards.While using this device, to
keep track of the length, this rhyme was often
Two heads, one body,
'Tis one, 'taint one,
'Twill be one, bye and bye.
'Tis two, 'taint two,
'Twill be two, bye and bye.
According to folklore, "niddy" comes
from a nickname for grandmother, who would often
spend alot of time knitting. "Noddy"
refers to how the grandmother would often "nod
off" (or fall asleep) while thus occupied.
In actuality, the term probably comes from the
way the tool moved when used--the person winding
the yarn would dip or nod the cross bars with
an elbow-wrist movement.
- an old weather term for a strong storm (or gale)
whose winds come from the northeast,
especially in the coastal areas of the northeastern
United States. This type of storm typically resulted
in heavy snow fall, high winds, high surf, and
coastal erosion. In recent years, the term seems
to be used (inappropriately) to describe any violent
snow storm (with heavy winds, precipitation and
thunder and lightning). See
more about this topic - from Cow Hampshire
the first emigrants to America had occupations concerned
primarily with simple, basic survival in the New
World. They were, for the most part, skilled laborers.
See the link for a listing and description of these
early jobs. [Also see "Trades
and Occupations in Colonial Times" and
Life in the Colonies"]
- a bivalve mollusk that is also called a shellfish
(because it has a two-part shell). The shell has
a hinge, which is closed by the oyster's adductor
muscle. To open a live oyster, you insert a knife
blade between the shells and sever the adductor
muscle, then remove the meat. This is called "shucking."
article at Cow Hampshire.
- a type of mid-thigh length coat often
worn in the winter. See
article on Blog: Cow Hampshire for more information.
- leader and sagamore of the Penacook Indians
(or Native Peoples)
medicine - a medical compound or mixture
of drugs, sometimes called a "nostrum,"
that is proprietary, or protected by a patent,
and is available without a doctor's prescription.
In reality, most of the old-time patent medicines
were "marked" medicines (usually the
container and the label design were trademarked),
and the contents were not patented. Some of the
more famous "nostrums" that are still
well known today are Lydia E. Pinkham's vegetable
compound, and Angostura bitters. Canterbury Shaker
Village was well-known in New Hampshire for it's
medicine herb garden used in the creation of herbal
and patent medicines. (Read more at link above)
- see "potash" (below)
- see "New Hampshire Glossary: Pistereens
and Johannes" - article, Blog: Cow Hampshire
- A colonial "pocket" was a removable
cloth bag used for holding "pocket books"
(wallets), sewing paraphernalia, and other things
that girls and women wanted handy throughout the
day. These pockets were tied around the waist
with a ribbon, or thin strip of cloth. They were
often decorated with embroidery. [SEE History
of the Pocket]
(or capitation, i.e. head) tax, was a lump sum
tax levied by colonial, state or local governments
on individuals, who often had to pay the tax in
order to vote. The Massachusetts law of 1646 served
as a model for the New England colonies. Every
male 16 years and older, the year of registration
for potential military service, was required to
pay an annual tax of 1s. For administrative simplicity,
the tax was often combined with the country rate.
New Hampshire in 1784 required voters to be males
over 21 who paid any tax, which in 1792 it became
payment of a "poll" (or head) tax.
- ("black salts") a substance that was
often the first cash crop, and export product,
for the early settlers.
Potash, also known as potassium hydroxide or lye,
was a strong base used throughout history to make
soap, gunpowder, glass,
and bleach. The early settlers would first chop
their hardwood into logs. Using oxen they would
draw the logs together, pile them in big heaps
and when they were dry, burn them to ashes. They
then took lumber and made a leach in the shape
of a V; filled the leach with ashes
and poured water in on top of the ashes. The lye,
which ran from the ashes, was caught in potash
kettles and boiled into potash. The water evaporated,
which left in the bottom of the kettles, a great
cake of dirty-brown matter, called "potash."
These lumps were broken up, re-leached, evaporated,
and dried in brick ovens, producing a whiter,
purer grade of potash called "pearlash."
In this concentrated form, the great forests of
northern New Hampshire, were, with much labor,
turned into money by the hardy settlers, who,
in the winter, conveyed the pearlash to local
markets in their sleds, and came back laden with
the necessaries of life. Almost the only products
having a cash value even as late as 1830 or 1840
were potash and grass seed.It took 200 bushels
of ashes from the fallen trees to make 100 pounds
of potash. Local storekeepers exchanged imported
goods for farm crops and other local products,
- a town-sanctioned enclosure for the keeping
of wayward domestic animals and the temporary
holding of animals as sureity (i.e. for tax payments).
They were often built of stone (which was more
durable than wood).
- an elected position; caretaker of a pound (see
above), and the animals it contained; sometimes
called a fold-keeper in early New England
- an old fashioned toilet, also called an outhouse.
article on Blog: Cow Hampshire for more info.
- see article "Taking
Stock in New Hampshire: Colonial Punishment"
from my Cow Hampshire blog; includes description
and examples (of use) of stocks, pillory and whipping
post in New Hampshire.
situation where people, animals or produce are
isolated to keep them separate from others, with
the hope of preventing the spread of an infectious
or contagious disease.
- A quarry is a type of open-pit mine from which
rock or minerals are extracted. Quarries are generally
used for extracting building materials, such as
dimension stone. Quarries are usually shallower
than other types of open-pit mines. Minerals of
New Hampshire were mined before and after the
arrival of European immigrants. Eleven pre-historic
quarries (quarries used by the pre-historic and
indigent people, i.e. "Indians) have been
identified in New Hampshire, including the most
recent one at Ossipee Mountain (2005). Some
of the most common types of minerals mined or
"quarried" in New Hampshire by European
settlers included limestone and granite (Concord
NH had the greatest concentration of these), iron,
gold, and other minerals. The
official NH State mineral is beryl. The official
state gem is smoky quartz. The
Swenson Granite Company of Concord NH gradually
became the strongest of these companies, and purchased
other regional quarries. The Swenson Company has
provided granite for numerous monuments and prestigious
projects around the country including parts of
the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, the Library of
Congress, the Brooklyn Bridge, The Pentagon, and
Civil War monuments from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
to Antietam, Maryland. Francestown was also the
site of a high-quality soapstone deposit, discovered
by Daniel Fuller about 1785. This quarry was closed
in 1891. Granite is New Hampshire's official state
rock (Adopted in 1985).
a person who collected rags, as a profession,
for resale to paper-making manufacturers. Read
more at blog: Cow Hampshire
- the common name for a highly toxic algae called
Alexandrium fundyense, can negatively impact the
harvesting of widely popular shellfish such as
soft- and hard-shell clams and oysters because
these shellfish ingest the algae, making them
hazardous and even deadly to eat. Read
more at blog: Cow Hampshire.
in the revolutionary cause, New Hampshire delegates
received the honor of being the first to vote
for the Declaration of Independence on July 4,
1776 and to establish its own government (January
1776). New Hampshire became the ninth and last
necessary state to ratify the new Constitution
of the United States on June 21, 1788. Pre-Revolution
events occurring in New Hampshire included: 1)
1772 "Pine Tree Riot" of Weare NH,
and 2) the removal in 1774, by a small party of
patriots at New Castle, of the powder and guns
William and Mary. None of the Revolutionary
battles took place on New Hampshire land.
Hundreds of minutemen from New Hampshire
participated in early skirmishes and battles,
including participation in the Battle
of Bunker Hill at which nearly all the troops
doing the actual fighting were said to have been
from this State. The signers of the Declaration
of Independence from New Hampshire were Josiah
Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, and William Whipple.
New Hampshire's General John Stark is famous for
(among other things) his victory at the Battle
of Bennington. Captain John Paul "Jones,"
who visited Portsmouth NH twice, had a brief stay
at the Purcell House (today called the Paul Jones
Museum) was famous for his sea campaigns.
- a vegetable imported from Europe to the American
colonies in the mid-1700s. Originally used for
medicinal purposes, combined with other herbs
it was believed to help cure dysentery, "prevailing
fevers," indigestion, headaches, the common
cold, and later even cholera and other more serious
maladies. By 1830 the plant was being cultivated
in New Hampshire, and was often called the "pie
plant" (probably referring to its use as
a pie filling).
- A salt marsh is a coastal wetland rich in marine
life, that is covered (at least once a month)
by the rising tide. They are sometimes called
tidal marshes, because they occur in the zone
between low and high tides. Salt marsh plants
cannot grow where waves are strong. They also
occur in areas called estuaries, where freshwater
from the land mixes with sea water. Salt marsh
plants have unusual colors in shades of gray,
brown, and green. The salt marsh is home to plants
and small animals important to the ecosystem,
and therefore to us. In the early days of New
Hampshire's colonization, farmers valued the salt
marsh. They often collected the salt marsh grass,
as its nutritional value for livestock was excellent.
Hampton New Hampshire's town seal includes a depiction
of the local salt marshes. Learn more about
the salt marsh on my blog, using the hyptertext
- a manufacturing business which produced salt.
In colonial America salt was vital for tanning
hides, and preserving fish. The principal supply
of salt was obtained by the evaporation or boiling
of sea water. The first known salt works in New
Hampshire was developed near Portsmouth.
- a sawmill was often the second mill built in
a settlement. Before there were sawmills, settlers
constructed dwellings out of logs and hand-hewn
planks. But once sawmills were built, milled boards
and planks were in great demand. [see "grist-mill"]
a group of people, appointed by a town's selectmen,
who would interview and hire teachers, visit schools
to ensure proper discipline and instruction; and
recommend textbooks. They worked in conjunction
with a "superintendent of schools" at
a later date.
- i.e. Ulster-Scots," a term used to refer
to the descendants of Lowland Scottish people
who live in Ulster, Ireland. "Scotch-Irish"
or "Scots-Irish" are terms used to refer
to the same people, and in particular, their descendants
who migrated across the Atlantic. These families
had lived in Ireland for 100 to 200 years but
had remained completely separate from the old
Irish and retained the Scottish character and
identity. They were usually of the Presbyterian
faith. Scotch-Irish farmers from Northern Ireland
began the prosperous settlement of Londonderry,
Hillsborough County, New Hampshire in 1719. In
the 2000 U.S. Census, 4,319,232 people claimed
Scottish heritage and 4,890,581 people claimed
Scotch-Irish heritage. The two groups represent
just over 3 percent of the U.S. population.
an agricultural hand tool, usually composed of
a metal blade attached to a wooden shaft (handle);
used to cut grass for hay and harvest crops from
the fields. Scythes had different sized blades,
depending on the job. For example, a thicker blade
was used to cut brush than was used to cut grass.
A special scythe, called a grain cradle, was designed
with wooden fingers to harvest grain, wheat, oats,
- early elected official of a town. He had authority
to see that all sales of leather were made honestly
as to quality and quantity. The sealer of leather
was authorized to put his "seal" or
stamp of approval on items he inspected, tested
(or assessors) - elected officials of a town;
this term evolved from "ten men" (c1634)
to "select townsmen (c1643), eventually evolving
into select(ed) men. This position was usually
"selected" at "town meeting"
held once a year. The selectmen managed the affairs
of the town in accordance with the policies and
laws set forth by the voters. Despite their responsibility
as municipal executives, selectmen can only exercise
those powers set forth by state law. Early responsibilities
might include hiring preachers, marking out roads,
granting licenses to run taverns or sell "spiritous"
liquors, submitting documents and fulfilling the
town's share (payment) of taxes required by higher-level
government. New Hampshire's first woman town selectman
was Miss Lenna Gwendolen Wilson of Sharon, who
served two House terms. She first became a selectman
in 1928, following service in the 1927 Legislature,
and was reelected for three additional three-year
terms. She served as board chairman throughout
that 12-year tenure, by annual vote of her male
- a disease that afflicted and killed the American
colonists, and even moreso the native peoples.
- the long, wooden shaft to which the blade of
a scythe mounts.
- the occupation where someone would repair, paint,
or replace a steeple, lightning rod, tower, chimney,
- the right to vote. In 1784, women lost the right
to vote in New Hampshire. In 1860, five states
(Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island,
and Massachusetts) allow free
blacks to vote. In 1868 the Fourteenth (U.S.)
amendment war ratified and passed Congress, giving
the vote to black men. In 1920, the Nineteenth
Amendment (The Susan B. Anthony Amendment) giving
women the right to vote, is ratified by a
majority of U.S. states and becomes law.
(overseer) of highways - an elected town
position whose responsibilities might include
the care and upkeep of current roads, the creation
of new roads (as designated by the town officers),
and the solitiation of resident help to maintain
of wood and lumber -
an elected town position whose responsibilities,
during colonial times, was to oversee the local
use of trees and lumber. On a higher level, deputy
surveyors of the King's Woods were appointed by
the governor. The Deputy Surveyor and his crew
had the authority to mark any and all suitable
white pines (to produce masts for the King's navy)
with the broad arrow mark of the king. These masts
became reserved for the British crown. The Deputy
Surveyor also had the authority to check the sawmills
run by the settlers [Learn about the Pine
Tree Riot of Weare NH].
- Temperance is defined as having control over
ones own actions. From a historical perspective,
temperance usually refers to not drinking alcohol.
To read more, visit the article, on Blog: Cow
old and new
- see article: New Hampshire Glossary: Pistereens
and Johannes on Blog; Cow Hampshire
reflecting oven -
a cylindrical device usually made of tin, but
sometimes also made out of copper, was set on
the hearth in front of the fire. The heat reflected
its polished back, and would bake, roast or broil
meat. (Also see "Cooking
in Colonial New Hampshire," from blog:
- an elected town position, it was his duty to
arrest Sabbath travellers, unless they were going
to or from church, and to keep the boys from playing
in the meeting-house, and to wake up any who might
fall asleep during meeting. In some towns, tithing
men were provided with staves which had brass
upon one end and feathers upon the other--they
used the brass end in hitting the sleeping men
or restless children, and the feathers were used
to brush the faces of sleeping women. Tithing
men also collected the taxes mandated for the
support of the church and the minister of the
gospel (hence their name, from the worth tithe,
" to pay a portion of one's income, especially
to the church."). They were expected to report
on idle or disorderly persons, profane swearers
or cursers and Sabbath breakers.
- an English loyalist, i.e., an American who favored
the British side during the American Revolution
(especially those who afforded aid and comfort
to the British army during the Revolutionary war)
were designated "Tories," a term borrowed
from English politics. This term is sometimes
used (erroneously) to describe anyone who refused
to sign the "Association Test"
- elected official of a town; kept all the vital
records for birth, marriages and deaths for the
church, as well as various other records of appointments,
deeds, meetings, and the election of officers
at the annual town meeting.
a person selected to shout or "cry"
the town news aloud. Since the ability to read
and write among the citizenship of early America
was fairly low, in addition to being written,
proclamations, edicts, laws and news were often
also communicated by word of mouth. Usually a
person of good standing in the community, able
to write and read the official proclamations.
They made use of a signalling device to draw attention
to their announcements, using a bugle, hunting
horn, other musical instruments, metal pots and
large spoons, and bells. The official job of Town
Crier can be traced back as far as 1066. Town
criers were protected by law. "Don't shoot
the messenger" was a very real command--
anything that was done to a town crier was deemed
to be done to the King. The Town crier would read
a proclamation, usually at the door of the local
inn, then nail it to the doorpost. The tradition
has resulted in the expression "posting a
notice", and calling a location for sending
and receiving mail (notices) the "post office."
- made from the resin of the pitch pine (pinus
rigida) tree, it was an export of the early settlers.
Turpentine was used by the local aborigines (Native
Americans) as medicine, both internally and externally,
for a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.
The "Indians" would place bits of pitch
pine wood in one of the depressions made in the
tree. A layer of flat sandstones would be placed
over the wood, and a fire would be built on top.
The heat would drive the sap out of the wood.
It would flow through the channel and pour into
a waiting vessel. After the early aborigines were
driven away from the area, the pioneers who moved
in and occupied the land (and also used turpentine)
used the Indian stills, but with a slight change
in technology. The pioneers would invert their
black, iron kettles over the pine bits, and build
the fire on top. The use of turpentine as medicine
for the colonists and their animals continued
for many years. Turpentine was sold, for medicinal
purposes, in apothecaries (and later pharmacies)
until the mid-1960s. This practice of came
to an end years ago due mainly to increased labor
costs and competition from foreign markets.
of the rebellion - aka Civil War
which lasted from 1861 to 1865. During that time,
over 38,943 New Hampshire residents served - approximately
12 percent of the state's population (1860 Census).
32,486 served in New Hampshire units, 3,160 enlisted
in the U. S. Navy, and 396 joined African-American
regiments. By war's end, 1,934 New Hampshire soldiers
and sailors had died from war wounds, 2,407 from
disease, and 499 died from undetermined causes.
NH was the birthplace of Luther C. Ladd, the first
enlisted soldier to lose his life in the Civil
baliff - An appointed position in a town
located on or near the seashore; water-baliffs
had oversight of the shore "to see that no
annoying things either by fish, wood or stone,
or other such like things be left or laid about
usually a place where one (usually the owner)
has the advantage of using water as a mechanical
a mill or manufacture driven by machinery
that is powered by a flowing body of water, such
as a brook or river). Why a privilege?
In most cases of early New Hampshire settlement,
the first individual who built a grist-mill was
awarded extra property, or other incenstives,
for doing so.
- a sharpening stone used to sharpen the edge
of metal tools and weapons (such as knives, scissors,
and scythes). Sharpening stones come in a variety
of sizes and shapes. The
Pike Manufacturing Company of Haverhill New
Hampshire, had the largest whetstone business
in the world, until the 1920's and 1930's when
artificial abrasives took over the market and
the business was moved to Littleton, NH. Their
whetstones were made from a mica schist, and there
are some myths and legends associated with the
Pond" whetstones. Grafton County, New
Hampshire was especially noted for the presence
rocks valuable as whetstones.
mill - Sheep were essential to pioneer
life, as their fleece was used to produce wool.
Sheared each spring, the wool was washed of its
natural grease and dirt, combed, and finally carded.
Carding was the untangling of the fibres. By hand,
it was a time-consuming pastime.
- historical records imply that the term "Yankee
Doodle" may be directly connected to Col.
John Goffe's troops, who participated in the "Indian
Wars" (circa 1760). See article, "New
Hampshire Inspired Yankee Doodle,"
on my Blog: Cow Hampshire.
- things made in New England, made widely
known by traveling Yankee
peddlers (salespeople). These items included
(but were not limited to) pins, needles, hooks,
scissors, combs, small hardware, buttons, thread,
ribbon, minor trinkets, knick-knacks, household
industries, nails, clocks, tin ware, and miscellaneous
novelties. The peddler often carried his goods
in trunks slung on his back by a harness or a
leather strap. Sometimes he used large wagons.
He traveled by land primarily until rivers and
lakes became connected by canals. Then, direct
selling in early America branched out to the frontiers
of the West and the Canadian territory in the
"Cow Hampshire" with articles on New Hampshire
"Slanguage" including words: "Ascared,"
Hampshire Weather Glossary (Humorous)
Century Slang Dictionary
Colonial Military Slang
of Tall Ship terms [archived version]
of the Scots Language
Old English sayings
Plan for Teachers,
on Early European colonist's speech
Colonist's Speech & Idioms #1
article - Colonial Willamsburg articles