|Quamphegan Park - A History of Oldfields Road and Vicinity|
by Annie Wentworth Baer
This essay is history of the Oldfelds Road area of South Berwick, Maine, probably written early 1900s for a speech at the local "Quamphegan" amusement park on Waterside Lane. Original manuscripts of essays by Annie Wentworth Baer are at the Woodman Institute, Dover , New Hampshire.
Quamphegan Park was an amusement park in South Berwick operated by the electric railway companies of a hundred years ago to encourage leisure time trolley riders. It was located near the Salmon Falls River on Waterside Lane, not far from the Route 101 bridge of today, which then carried a trolley line. This is an undated photo from the Old Berwick Historical Society collection. (OBHS catalog 1996I.0473.03, photo 1999.0245)
Quamphegan Park is a namesake of the tract of land Sagamore Rowls reserved for his own use when he sold Humphrey Chadbourne 900 acres of land lying between the Great Works river and the Newichawannock May 10, 1643. This tract, so dear to the Sagamore's heart, he sold five years later to Thomas Spencer for five pounds and "the Grace of God." This Indian name still clings to the locality about the bridge over the Newichawannock between Rollinsford and South Berwick.
In New Hampshire, we have the Quamphegan school district, and when the writer was a child, South Berwick village was often called Quamphegan.
Eleven years before this land sale between the red man and the newcomer, Sir Ferdinando Gorges’ and Capt. John Mason's men were sailing up this river, bring supplies and cattle for the little settlement nearly two miles above us. The Pied Cowe, a small sailing vessel, appeared in the river July 8, 1634, and anchored a mile north of the Eliot bridge of our time. The little ship was loaded with cattle for the settlement, and had a model of a saw mill in her cargo. The cove where the vessel anchored and discharged her load has since that time been known as Cow Cove.
The 22nd of July following, James Wall, William Chadbourne (the father of Humphrey) and James Goddard, carpenters, began to build the saw mill, the first to be run by water in New England. In Dec. 1635, John Mason died, and soon his affairs were in a sad state in the colony. The men hired to work for Capt. Mason had not been paid their wages, and they had no means of getting a living other than taking the land and tilling it as their own. This many did. In 1647, Sir Ferdinando Gorges died, and his estate in America was sadly neglected. At this stage of affairs, the new town of Kittery assumed that all land within her borders belonged to her, and could be given away to whomsoever she chose. This opinion was disputed years later, but after considerable law business, the possessors of the granted lands held them.
In 1674, Nicholas Hodsdon bought of John Wincoll a parcel of land which Wincoll had bought of John Heard in 1651. There was a dwelling house on the land when Hodsdon bought it. It was bounded on the north by "Burch brook and Cove," now known as Flynn's brook and cove. Next came Roger Plaisted's lot. This was known as the "Birches Point lot." This is the first point south of the Eliot bridge on the Maine side, and less than a hundred years ago was wearing heavy timber; today it stretches its length into the Newichawannock naked – save a few scrubby trees. Ex. Gov. Plaisted of Maine is a descendant of the family living here nearly two centuries and a half ago.
Joining the Plaisted lot on the north came James Emery's bought in 1654. Emery sold in 1696 to Philip Hubbard who married a daughter of Daniel Goodwin, who secured his lot by town grant in 1654. It is at this Park that Daniel Goodwin's numerous descendants meet each year to perpetuate his memory. Philip Hubbard came from the Parish of St. Saviour, Isle of Jersey, and was an inhabitant of Berwick in 1692.
A grandson of Philip and Elizabeth (Goodwin) Hubbard, also named Philip, born in 1718, married Hannah Plummer. He was a "Capt. in the 30th Reg. Army of the Colonies," so the inscription on the monument erected to his memory by his descendants tells us. He held many town offices, and was a man of affairs. He died in 1792.
The Hubbards owned land west of us, and perchance this Park was a part of their possessions, since the Hubbard garrison was on the spot where the Isaac Libby house stands, and Philip Hubbard of Revolutionary fame, lies a little west of the garrison site on the hillside.
In 1654, John Green moved up the river from near Frank's Fort, and lived next to Daniel Goodwin. Thomas Abbot, who married Green's daughter, lived on a part of this land.
Next above Abbot's land we read that Peter Grant bought a lot in 1659. This lot was held in that name for many years, and we still have Grant's point.
The records tell us that by a vote of the town in 1652, the "fowling marshes" above Birch Point to Peter Grant's point were declared to be common land. Here any inhabitant of this should could cut hay and thatch grass. Benjamin Waymouth of Dover, -- just across the river – coveted some of that thatch in the year 1700, and cut and carried some away, for which he was prosecuted and fined five pounds. The "fowling marsh" is a common river name today. Second above Peter Grant's land we have James Warren's lot, laid out July 15, 1656. He and Peter Grant are believed to be relics of the Battle of Dunbar in 1657, when Cromwell captured 10,000 Scotchmen, too many to slaughter as he did the Irish prisoners of war, and not knowing what to do with so many sent some to Boston, where they were sold to pay their passage. Many worked seven years to gain their freedom. Sullivan, in his History of Maine, mentions the familiar names of McIntire, Tucker, and Maxwell. Sarah Orne Jewett adds Leavitt and Bradwardeen or Bradeen, and Dr. Everett Stackpole brings Grant, Warren and Hamilton to swell the list of Scotch prisoners with us.
Maxwell received his grant of land the same day as Warren, but he sold his property to John Neal. James Warren and Margaret, his wife, lived on this land and had five children. Margaret, the second born, married James Stackpole, the immigrant ancestor of the writer. Also a daughter Grizel born in 1662 who was the third wife of Richard Otis of Dover. June 27, 1689, the "destruction of Cochecho", as it was called for many years, occurred. The Indians planned well and executed better. Richard Otis and little Hannah were killed, and Grizel, with her infant daughter, were taken prisoners. She was carried to Canada. French priests too the child under their care, and she was baptized by the name Christine, and educated in the Romish religion. Grizel passed some time in a nunnery, but declined taking the veil. She was married to a Frenchman by whom she had five children. Christine married, when she eighteen, a Frenchman whose surname was LeBeau, and whose given name resembled Sharrington in English. After six years, her husband died, and she was not permitted to have her two children who were brought up in a convent. Anxious to see her own people, she returned to her relatives in Dover, and later married Capt. Thomas Baker of North Hampton, Mass. They moved to Dover about 1734. Seven children were born to Capt. Baker and his wife, and she died in 1773, having lived "a pattern of industry, prudence and economy." Cow Cove makes into the Warren land, and the estate was in the Warren name for generations. Within fifty years, the Warrens lived at "Pound Hill," a part of the grant of land on the highway running through "Old Fields."
The Neals were long in their tenure. Sixty years ago in a home across the road from the Isaac Libby house, where a thicket of lilac bushes marks the site for passers by – lived a widow Neal with her son. One evening, Young Neal told his mother that he was going for a little while. "Shan't be gone long," he said. He took his gun and went out, and never came back. No trace of him was ever found. The mother died after years of weary waiting, and when the time limit expired, his heirs petitioned the court to settle his estate. There are still families of that name living in this locality.
Since the Eliot Bridge was built, there stood on the left side of the road running from the river to the "Old Fields Road," an old house almost surrounded by aged willows. Here many years ago lived a descendant of one of the early grantees. This man was given to looking upon the wine when it was red, and frequently came from the village north of him in a pat valliant condition, and enjoyed spending his valor on his timid wife. Driving her outdoors was one part of his diversions. The young men of the neighborhood decided to give this man some of his own medicine. They bided their time, and when it was known that he was coming home in a warlike frame of mind, they quickly entered the bedroom through the low window, and put a hornet's nest into his bed. He came into his house, promptly drove his terrified wife into the open, and after regaling himself with liquor, went to bed. Soon the watching neighbors heard a yell of misery, and the man with as little clothing on as the extreme of evening fashion calls for today, rushed howling out of his house, accompanied by an infuriated horde of hornets. He altered his course for the river, believing he could get clear of his company in the clear water of the Newichawannock. But alas! He had miscalculated the tide; it was dead low water, and the channel is well toward the middle of the river. Clear into the muddy flats he ran, beating off the stinging fiends, and finally made a plunge into the water. The young men enjoyed the battle and flight so much that the story has been handed down from generation to generation.
It is said that the timber on Birch Point was sacrificed through the misdeed of one of the sons of its owner. Mrs. Sarah Frost, a woman born and reared in the town of old Kittery, married to George Frost in 1795, and was well known as the land-lady of Frost Tavern in South Berwick. Mrs. Frost had a call to Portsmouth, where a large sum of money was to be paid her. She journeyed to the New Hampshire part in a two-wheeled chaise, and expected to return before night. There was some hitch in the business arrangements, and she was delayed. Night overtook her before she reached Old Fields, and under cover of darkness, a man held her up and demanded her money. Mrs. Frost was a woman of strong nerve and great courage. She resisted vigorously., and during the contest said, "I know you!" and told him his name (Henry Hodsdon?). When the would-be highwayman realized that Mrs. Frost recognized him, he stepped back into the bushes, and the intrepid woman drove on. She was so incensed at his attempted robbery that she had him arrested, and to save him from the penitentiary, his family mortgaged Birch Point. In time, the growth was cut by the mortgagee. Mrs. Frost was equal to all occasions, as this old time story proves.
It came about that an Italian with a company of puppets wandered into South Berwick many years ago. He hired a room in Mrs. Frost's tavern, and made all plans to give an entertainment. A small boy, whose curiosity got the bitter of his judgement, came so close to the little wooden folk that he stepped on the string that moved the while company and broke it. Surely the game was up, and this sad accident so enraged the Italian that he fell upon the boy with seemingly murderous intent. At this critical moment, Mrs. Frost appeared, and taking in the situation, drove the Italian out, and threw his puppets after him. This decided woman had entertained President Monroe, Lafayette, and other potentates without a recorded break, but when Thomas Starr King and his parents came into the village on their way to some other place, we have another story. They went to Mrs. Frost's hostelry to rest and have dinner. Mr. King the elder found the office and barroom combined seemed to be the only place for his wife and son to sit in. Now the Rev. Mr. King preached universal salvation, but socially he made a little distinction, and appealed to Mrs. Frost for another room for himself and family to rest in. This request raised the landlady's ire, and she ordered on less a person that the eloquent Starr King and his immediate ancestors out of her house. All the owners of these river lots were not as decided as Mrs. Frost. They lived the hard lives of those pioneer days.
In time, the Indians grew troublesome, and they fortified their homes, and some were know as garrisons. We read of Hubbard's, which stood where the Isaac Libby house stands, Daniel Goodwin's, Nathan Lord's and Neal's garrisons, we read also of the difficulty these early settlers had, to pay their taxes in war time. They, with their large families, attended the church in the Parish of Unity, very near Brattle Street station on the electric car line. One comes upon the sites of many old homesteads, and numerous small graveyards are scattered through the woods on the ridge running above the river bank.
A few rods north of the casino in this park, can be found several graves, some bearing trees of considerable size. Most of these are without markers, save field stones, but two slate stones are standing in fairly good condition. One read thus: Chadbourne Warren died in 1817, aged 79. Samuel Warren's name is cut on the other stone – a little south east of the casino are a few stones in what was evidently a Hodgdon burying place, now concealed by fast growing trees.