Reprinted by permission from the Summer, 1985 Issue of
OUTLOOK , The Magazine of Northern New Hampshire (at the time).
Early History Of Haverhill
By Archie Steenburgh
Past President of the Haverhill Historical Society
Reprinted by permission from the Summer 1975, Issue of
OUTLOOK Magazine, The Magazine of Northern New Hampshire
00As it winds its way languidly from its headwaters near the Canadian border, the Connecticut River in the Town of Haverhill makes two dramatic oxbows. The broad sweep of this fertile river bottom land was the focal point in 1761 for the first settlers who labored to carve the beginning of a settlement in this northern most out-post of colonial New Hampshire.
00The Cohase region (in Indian language Choose meant crooked and accurately described the course of the river here) had long been an area of concern to the authorities in the southern part of the state. Exploration of the area began early in the 18th Century and continued on a sporadic Basis for the next fifty years. In 1753 John Stark, a prominent general of the Revolutionary War, charted a trail from Rumford (present day Concord) to what would become Plymouth and Warren and onto the Cohase Meadows at Haverhill for then Governor Benning Wentworth.
00Two future Haverhill grantees were present in 1760 at the occasion of the French surrender to the British at Montreal The fall of Montreal and the British domination of Canada would play a s significant role in he founding of Haverhill . Now free from the danger of unfriendly Indians sided and
abetted by their French allies, the frontier beckoned those stout and hardy persons bent on improving their lot.
00Impressed with what they saw on their journey north along the Connecticut River to the Canadian campaign, Capt. John Hazen and Col. Jacob Baily applied to Royal Governor Benning Wentworth for a charter to the area which would become Haverhill, New Hampshire and Newbury, Vermont in 1763 twin charters were granted.
00With the removal of the Indians and the prospect of fertile river bottom land on which to pasture cattle and grow crops the settlement of Haverhill grew rapidly. In 1774 a population of three hundred and eighty-seven was evidence that this "first town" of Northern New Hampshire already was gaining in the prominence which would result in Haverhill being selected the seat of Grafton County government.
00It is difficult now to capture the spirit of those days. The passage of over 200 years tends to romanticize and minimize the privations and Hardships encountered by the early settlers. Constant struggle and backbreaking drudgery was part and parcel of simple existence. But the people prevailed and out of a small frontier settlement grew a thriving community by the early 19th century.
00The coming of the first stage lines to Haverhill in 1814 opened an era of prosperity unprecedented in its history. Prior to the arrival of the railroad, some forty years Later, more than half a dozen stage lines daily stopped at Haverhill to deposit upwards of 150 or more travelers at the town's numerous taverns. A few of those early inns were built to house the weary and, from many accounts, to accommodate thirsty travelers as well.
00It was during this period that Haverhill sent its first. Governor to Concord. John Page was thrice elected in1839, 1840 and 1841. (Henry W. Keyes served as Governor of the State from 1917 - 1919. Mr. Keyes wife was the famous author, Frances Parkinson Keyes.)
00Faced with what appeared to be the unpleasant prospect of a railroad
running through their end of town, residents of Haverhill Corner convinced the owners of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad to alter their plans and have the road cross the Connecticut River into Vermont just south of where the Ammonoosuc River joins the Connecticut River. As a consequence of this change Woodsville became the terminus of the railroad and eventually the business center.
00A new and exciting chapter of the town's history opened with the coming of the railroad. As the stage coach before had helped to make Haverhill Corner "first" among northern New Hampshire towns, Woodsville in the early years of the 20th century would serve as a transportation center for all of northern New England.
00Today little remains of those exciting railroad days when numerous trains would pull into Woodsville with passengers and cargo bound for distant places.
00The residents of Haverhill have adjusted well to the changes brought by time. Haverhill Corner, once a thriving commercial district has assumed a residential character that fits it well. Many of the fine homes built during the late 18th and early 19th century still grace the rolling landscape, a visible reminder of the historic past. Woodsville, still the commercial center for the town is sustained by numerous private businesses and is as well the location of federal, state and county agencies.
00The natural beauty of the Connecticut River in Haverhill remains essentially as it was when the Reverend John Williams, captured by Indians during the Deerfield massacre in 1704 and taken north along the river to Canada, became the first recorded white man to see it.
00The vitality, energy and pride of her people which sustained Haverhill during its early years can still be found among the residents today, many of whom can trace their forebears back to the grantees in the original charter. It is safe to assume that Haverhill's future will be as bright as its historic past,