Rambles Around The Old Town Of Concord,
Cook, Howard M.. Wayside jottings, or, Rambles around the old town of
Concord, New Hampshire and its suburbs. Concord, N.H.: E.C. Eastman, 1910.
Howard Cook's reason for the writing and publication of The Wayside
Jottings may be told in a few words. He had been reading Charles W.
Brewster's "Rambles About Portsmouth," published first in the Portsmouth
Journal, of which Charles was the editor, and republished in a book form. The
thought occurred to Howard that a series of local sketches of Concord and its
suburbs might be of interest. Howard had been a resident of Concord for about
fifty years, and during that time had taken a good many rambles around the old
town. He was also somewhat familiar with its history.
Accordingly he began this series of local sketches in the Concord Evening
Monitor in the fall of 1907, and continued the writing of them till the spring
of 1909. Some of the miscellaneous sketches were published in the Concord
Daily Patriot, till thirty-five of them have appeared from time to time in
these local newspapers.
Howard was indebted to Henry McFarland, the author of the interesting volume,
"Sixty Years in Concord and Elsewhere," for advice, and who kindly offered to
make any needed corrections in the copy. He got a good deal of historical
information from Dr. Nathaniel Bouton's "History of Concord," and also from
the "New History of Concord," compiled by the History Commission.
The Wayside Jottings
I. First ramble about Concord commences at the corner of South Main and
Pleasant Streets. Pleasant Street to South Street. Through this street to
Broadway and Rollins' Park.
II. Rollins' Park to Wheeler's Corner, through South Street to Bow Mills.
Turkey River. Nathaniel H. Carter's tribute to it. His poem, "To My Native
III. Bow Mills to "Portsmouth" bridge. Whittier's tribute to the Merrimack
in his poem, "Our River." Through Hall Street to the old Rolfe mansion. The
home of Benjamin Thompson, afterwards known as Count Rumford.
IV. Butters' Tavern, an old-time hostelry. Ramble along the west side of
South Main Street. The old residents on the line of this street of fifty or
more years ago. Arrival at the starting point of our first ramble.
V. Plan of Main Street as it appeared in 1827. Main Street formally laid out
in 1785. Pleasant Street formerly known as the "Hopkinton Road." The visit
of George Thompson and John G. Whittier to town in 1835. Their mobbing.
"Pleasant View," the home at this time of Mary Baker G. Eddy.
VI. Garrisons built in the town of Rumford in 1733-'46. Number 4 garrison
located on the line of Pleasant Street at Millville. The sites of six other
VII. The Rumford massacre on the "Hopkinton Road" in 1746. The dedication of
the Bradley monument in 1837. St. Paul's School and the first rector, Dr.
Henry E. Coit.
VIII. Changes in North Main Street in fifty years. The conflagration of
August, 1851. The remodeled court house. The site of the first log meeting
house. The North Church. Dr. Nathaniel Bouton, its fourth pastor. The
destruction by fire of the "Old North" Church in 1870.
IX. The Old North Cemetery. Site selected in 1730. Blossom Hill Cemetery.
Consecrated July 13, 1870. Exercises at the consecration.
X. East side of South Main Street. The change in its appearance in fifty
years. Some of the old residents.
XI. The first religious service in Concord Sunday, May 15, 1726. The battle
between the Penacooks and Mohawks on "Sugar Ball" bluff. The East Concord
Congregational Church. Sewalls Falls. Great expectations of East Concord as
a manufacturing center. "Elmcroft" built in 1755.
XII. East Concord again. "The Port" its original name. Scotch-Irish the
first settlers. The old ferries on the Merrimack. The first bridge that
spanned the river erected in 1795.
XIII. The primitive way of worship in Concord. The formation of the West
Concord Church in 1832. Rev. Asa P. Tenney its first minister. "Rock-Ribbed"
XIV. Penacook. The "Burrough." Joseph Walker the first settler. The first
woolen mill built by Richard Kimball and Jeremiah Abbott.
XV. Two hundred and fifty men enlisted in the Civil War from Penacook. The
death of Maj. William Brown at Fort Steadman, Va. The Baptist Church
dedicated in 1858. The Penacook House built in 1787. The Bonney brothers.
Dustin's Island. Dedication of the monument to Hannah Dustin June 17, 1874.
XVI. On the line of the "Old Hopkinton Road." Dimond Hill. Isaac N. Abbott's
home. The birth place of Grace Fletcher Webster. The Kimball garrison.
XVII. Hopkinton village. The old residents of the village in the forties.
Once the temporary capital of New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Antiquarian
XVIII. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Hopkinton village. Erected in
1827-'28. The Lafayette elm. The general's visit to Hopkinton in 1825.
XIX. The execution of Abraham Prescott January 6, 1837, at Hopkinton
village. Probably the cause of the erection of the New Hampshire State
Hospital at Concord. The old Fletcher house.
XX. Bow, one of the hill towns of Merrimack County. "Meeting-House Hill"
Wood Hill and the Old Home Day celebration held in Hammond's grove on its
XXI. On the road to Dunbarton. The Oliver Bailey farm. The birthplace of
Henry M. Putney. Dunbarton Center, "a city set on a hill." The old town
house. Some teachers in the old-time schools.
XXII. Rattlesnake Hill in the West Concord district. Interesting facts from
the "New History of Con-cord" in regard to the development of the granite
XXIII. Lake Penacook, a gem in the crown of Concord. The evolution in the
methods of supplying water for domestic uses. The history of the Concord
XXIV. Concord's shade trees. Rev. Timothy Walker planted the first North End
elms in 1764. The "Webster-Coffin Elm" planted in 1782. Other fine elms. The
rock maples. The Washington oak on Stickney Hill.
XXV. The old-time stores and merchants of Concord. The modern way of
displaying goods. W. W. Easterbrook Old-time merchants.
XXVI. C. C. Webster, the veteran grocer. Webster & Tuttle the first firm to
deliver groceries. Main Street in the early fifties and the merchants at
XXVII. Concord not famed as a manufacturing center. A pleasant rural city. A
large amount of mental suffering within its borders in hospital and prison.
What the railroads have done for Concord.
XXVIII. Up and down the Merrimack in the old boating days. The era of the
canal boat. The Merrimack in the days of inland navigation. The method of
the propulsion of the boats.
XXIX. The logging days on the Merrimack. Anecdote of Rev. Augustus Woodbury.
Amoskeag Falls, the favorite resort of the Indians. Gen. John Stark.
XXX. A chat with the Webster Elm. Set out in 1782 by the Coffin brothers.
Reminiscences of the olden time as given by the elm. The burning of the Old
North Church in 1870.
XXXI. A trip to Manchester on the electrics. Pembroke Street. Pembroke
granted to the heirs of the survivors of the Lovewell expedition. The
Blanchard Academy and the gymnasium.
XXXII. Rev. Abraham Burnham, an old-time minister of Pembroke. Reminiscences
of him by a student at Blanchard Academy. Hooksett and its odd name.
Bonney's tavern. Down the turnpike to Manchester. The new North End in the
XXXIII. Gov. Frank W. Rollins' recollections of the North End. He speaks of
it as he remembered it when a boy. Fort Eddy and the Indian associations.
XXXIV. Governor Rollins' reminiscences continued. A sketch of those who
lived at the North End.
XXXV. Governor Rollins' reminiscences concluded. The burning of the North
Church. The days of the old hand-engines. The Old North when occupied as the
XXXVI. The "Plains." Formerly a great place for forest fires. The Merrimack
Agricultural Society fair ground. The "glacial epoch." The campground of the
XXXVII. Conclusion of the "Jottings." The physical characteristics of
Concord. A goodly heritage for the dwellers in it. A law-abiding city. Its
educational privileges. The early settlers, religious men and women. What
has the future in store for our rural city on the banks of the Merrimack?
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Hanging of Abraham Prescott
Five roads branch
off like spokes from a wheel from the village square that fronts the
Perkins Inn and the Congregational Church. If we take the road leading to
Beech Hill and Tyler's bridge over the Contoocook, we will soon come to
the place where the first and last public execution took place in
Merrimack County. It was here that Abraham Prescott was hanged on January
6, 1836, for the murder of Mrs. Sally Cochran of Pembroke. While other
places or sites in or near the village have been appropriately marked with
bronze tablets, nothing of the kind has been attempted at this place,
probably on account of the tragic character of the scene there enacted,
and the doubt about the mental responsibility of the principal actor
therein. It is near the highway in what formerly was a pasture, now used
by the Beech Hill Golf Club as golf links, and on which a neat club house
has been erected. Nearby is a fine oak grove, one of "God's first
temples," where in years past the Fourth of July Sunday School
celebrations took place, and where in recent years Hopkinton's Old Home
Day has been observed with appropriate exercises.
Abraham Prescott was probably a demented man when he committed the crime
for which he was executed, and if the old saying is true, that "the blood
of the martyrs was the seed of the church," then his legal taking off was
the seed corn, or starting point, of the movement that culminated in the
location and building of an asylum for the insane in Concord. And one
looking at this asylum, or hospital, and noting the many buildings that
have been erected from year to year, can see what a great and beneficent
institution it has come to be.
Prof. Amos Hadley, in an interesting address that he delivered in June,
1896, before the New Hampshire Historical Society on "New Hampshire in the
Fourth Decade of the Passing (Nineteenth) Century," refers to this
gruesome event as follows:
"In 1833 occurred in Pembroke the startling murder of Mrs. Sally Cochran
at the hands of the youth, Abraham Prescott. The case is a celebrated one
in our criminal annals. Prescott was twice tried, twice convicted, and
twice sentenced to be hanged. Upon the unanimous recommendation of the
three judges of the highest court Richardson, Parker and Upham who had sat
at his trial, and upon the petition of others, Governor Badger ordered the
execution postponed from the 23d of December, 1835, to the 6th of January,
1836. A great crowd of spectators had gathered at the jail in Hopkinton on
the former day and disappointed at the reprieve, had resorted to such
threats of mob violence as caused the death, by fright, of Jailer Leach's
invalid daughter. The members of the court, who had doubts as to Prescott
's soundness of mind at the time of committing the deed, recommended to
the governor a continuance of the reprieve. if the council should consent,
till legislative relief might be obtained. The council would not consent,
and so the condemned youth, a fitter subject for a lunatic asylum than the
gallows, was executed on the cold January day, dangling in the sight of
thousands who had gathered from all the region around. But Charles H.
Peaslee and Ichabod Bartlett, fully convinced of the moral
irresponsibility of the victim whom they had strenuously defended at the
trial, found in this result new incentive and argument in their eminently
effective efforts to establish an asylum for the insane the question of
doing which soon engaged the earnest attention of the people and the
legislature." And then Mr. Hadley gives an account of the efforts that
were made by the different administrations and Legislatures for the
establishment of an asylum, until six years after the execution of
Prescott, or in the year 1842, it was opened for the reception of patients
and called the New Hampshire State Hospital at Concord.