Dover, New Hampshire
This is one of the most interesting and important towns in New Hampshire. It is one of the county towns of Strafford county, and lies 40 miles E. from Concord, 12 N.W. by N. from Portsmouth, and 45 S.W. from Portland. Population, 1830, 5,549. The principal streams of Dover are the Cocheco, and Bellamy Bank, or Back river. They take a S.E. course though the town, and unite with other waters to form the Piscataqua.
Cocheco, or Quochecho river, has its rise from several small streams in New Durham, which unite in Farmington, whence the river meanders through Rochester, there receiving the Isinglass, a tributary, and thence passes through Dover into the Newichwannock, or Salmon Fall river, the principal branch of the Piscataqua. The Cocheco is a beautiful river, and very important to the inhabitants of Rochester and Dover. Passing over this town in any direction, the traveller finds no rugged mountains, nor extensive barren plains, but occasionally ascends gentle swells of land, from the height of which the eye meets some delightful object: a winding stream, a well cultivated farm, or a distant village. In the S. part of the town is a neck of land about 2 miles long and half a mile broad, having Piscataqua on one side and Back river on the other. From the road on either hand, the land gradually descends to the rivers. It commands a very delightful, variegated, and extensive prospect of bays, adjacent shores, and distant mountains. On this neck the first settlement of the town was made, in 1623, by a company in England, whose design it was to plant a colony and establish a fishery around the Piscataqua; for which purpose they sent over, with several others, Edward and William Hilton, fishmongers, of London. These men commenced their operations on the Neck at a place by the Indians called Winichahanat, which they called Northam, and afterwards Dover. For several years, this spot embraced the principal part of the population of the town; here was erected the first meeting-house, afterwards surrounded with an entrenchment, and flankarts, the remains of which are still visible; here the people assembled to worship, and to transact their public business. In process of time, the business and population of the town began to centre around Cocheco falls, about 4 miles N.W. from the neck. These falls are in the river whose name they bear, and give to the water that passes over them a sudden descent of 32 1/2 feet. Situate at the head of navigation, about 12 miles from the ocean, having a fertile country on the north, west, and south, they are considered among the most valuable in New England. Around these falls the beautiful village of Dover is situated, containing many handsome buildings.
The Dover "Cotton Factory Company," at Cocheco falls, was incorporated in 1820. They have one brick mill of 420 feet by 45, 7 stories high, and two other mills of the same material, 154 by 43 feet, one 5 and the other 6 stories high.—These mills contain 25,040 spindles and 768 looms, and manufacture annually 5,000,000 yards of cotton cloth, the principal part of which is bleached, and printed into calico by the company. This company employ a capital of more than a million of dollars, and about 1,000 persons. There are other manufacturing establishments in Dover, but this is the principal.
A society of Friends was established here at an early period, and formerly comprised about one third of the population.
A congregational church was organized in 1638. A Mr. Leverich, a worthy puritan, was their first minister, and probably the first ordained minister that preached the gospel in New Hampshire. Mr. Leverich soon removed, and until the settlement of the pious Daniel Maud, in 1642, the church was much oppressed by the bad character of their ministers.
The Rev. Jeremy Belknap, D.D. the celebrated historian of New Hampshire, was ordained in this town in 1767. He removed to Boston, and was settled there April 4, 1787. He died in Boston, June 20, 1798, aged 54.
This town in its early years was greatly frequented by the Indians, and experienced many sufferings in their repeated attacks upon the inhabitants. In 1675, Maj. Waldron by a strategem secured about 200 Indians at Dover, who had at times exhibited signs of hostility. Seven or eight of them, who had been guilty of some atrocities, were immediately hanged, and the rest sold into slavery. The Indians abroad regarded this act of Waldron as a breach of faith, and swore against him implacable revenge. In 1689, after a lapse of 13 years, they determined to execute their project. Previous to the fatal night (27th of June) some hints had been thrown out by the squaws, but they were either misunderstood or disregarded; and the people suffered to sleep in their garrisons as usual. In the stillness of the night the doors of the garrisons were opened, and the Indians, at a concerted signal, rose from their lurking places, and rushed upon the defenceless inhabitants. Waldron, though 80 years of age, made a gallant defence, but was overwhelmed by the superior numbers of his adversaries, who literally cut him to pieces. In this affair, 23 persons were killed, and 29 made prisoners. The Indians were soon overtaken and nearly the whole party destroyed.