Durham, New Hampshire
Strafford county, is 32 miles E. by S. from Concord, 11 W.N.W. from Portsmouth, and 7 S. from Dover. Population, 1830, 1,606. The situation of this town, upon the Piscataqua and its branches, is very favorable both as to water power and transportation. Oyster river, one of the branches of the Piscataqua, issues from Wheelwright's pond in Lee, and after running nearly its whole course in Durham, furnishing in its progress several convenient mill seats, falls into the main river near Piscataqua bridge. This bridge is 2,600 feet in length, and 40 in width. It cost $65,400. The tide flows in this branch of the river up to the falls near the meeting-house in the village, where business to a large amount is annually transacted. This village is a very central depot for the lumber and produce of the adjacent country. Lamprey river, another branch of the Piscataqua, runs through the westerly part of this town, over several falls remarkably well adapted for mill seats, into the town of New Market, where it falls into the Great Bay. Upon both sides of Oyster river a deep argillaceous loam prevails, which is peculiarly favorable to the production of the grasses, of which very heavy crops are cut, and hay is an article of considerable export. Extensive ledges of excellent granite, with which the town abounds, have been the source of much profitable employment to the inhabitants. A large block of detached granite in the southeast part of this town was formerly placed in a very singular situation. Its weight was 60 or 70 tons, and it was poised so exactly upon two other stones as to be visibly moved by the wind. It was some years since dislodged from this extraordinary position by the barbarous curiosity of some visitors. Durham was originally a part of Dover; but soon after its settlement was formed into a distinct parish by the name of Oyster river, from the stream which passes through it. From the abundance of excellent oysters found in its waters, this river probably derived its name, and it was a famous rendezvous of the Indians. For many years this place suffered exceedingly by Indian depredations and murders. In 1694, when a large part of the inhabitants had marched to the westward, the Indians, who were dispersed in the woods about Oyster river, having diligently observed the number of men in one of the garrisons, rushed upon eighteen of them as they were going to their morning devotions, and having cut off their retreat to the house, put them all to death except one, who fortunately escaped.
Maj. Gen. John Sullivan, of the revolutionary army, was a resident of this town, and died here Jan. 23, 1795. He was a native of Berwick, Me.; was a distinguished commander during the war; was president of the state three years, and afterwards district judge of New Hampshire. On all occasions he proved himself the firm supporter of the rights of the country.