WALTER BRYENT’S WINNEPESAUKEE JOURNAL, 1747

Communicated by the late Capt. William F. Goodwin, U. S. A., of Concord, N. H.

[Walter Bryent, of Newmarket, N. H., who kept the following journal, was a noted surveyor in that region. On the 12th of March, 1740-1, he was nominated by Gov. Belcher, and confirmed by the council of New Hampshire, to run the boundary line between the province and the county of York. His journal of this survey, from March 13 to April 1, 1741, is printed in the “Historical Magazine,” 2d series, vol. ix. pages 17 to 19, and in the “New Hampshire Provincial Papers,” vol. vi. pages 349 to 351. A letter, dated “Newmarket, Oct. 9, 1790,” from Bryent to the Rev. Jeremy Belknap, D.D., relating to this boundary line and matters connected with it, is printed in Belknap’s “History of New Hampshire,” vol. ill. pages 394 to 397. Bryent made surveys of the towns of Kingston and Londonderry in 1742, and of Bow in 1749. He was a selectman of Newmarket in 1765, and in 1768 was appointed one of the managers of the lottery to build a bridge over Exeter river.] 

The soldiers under the command of Major Davis, who marched to Winnepesaukee Pond in 1747, as narrated in the following journal, were it seems a portion of the one thousand men which the General Assembly, June 4, 1746, voted to raise for the reduction of Canada.  If an  ”Account of Payments for the Canada Expedition, To Bundry to Inlist Volunteers,” is printed in the New Hampshire Provincial Papers, under 1746.  It contains the names of some of the officers mentioned in this journal. The payments amount to £29,389.10s. of which £3000 was paid to Major Thomas Davis, a member of the General Assembly, and, we presume, the commander of this expedition to Winnepesaukee Pond.

In the first volume of Farmer & Moore’s Historical Collections, page 30, it is stated in a note concerning the site of Lovewcll’s Fight, in 1725, that “Walter Bryant, of Bow, who was employed as surveyor in a company engaged in the intended expedition against Canada, in 1747, passed over the ground where the sanguinary conflict took place. He there ‘discovered Indian camps large enough to hold thirty men—saw the epot where Lovewell was killed and the trees full of bullet-holes, having also imitations of men’s faces cut upon them.’”—

[Editor,  N.H. Provincial Papers, v. 89, 90]. 


James Bryent, supposed to have come from England, is said to have settled on Great Island in Portsmouth harbor. He was b. about 1660 and d. in 1720. His wife, named Honour, was b. Jan. 31, 1678; d. in 1767. These had one (probably others) son, namely:

Walter Bryent, Esq., b. on Great Island near Portsmouth, N. H., Feb. 10, 1710; m. Dec. 25, 1735, Elizabeth Folsum, who was b. Sept. 10, 1712. He settled at Newmarket, and was a noted land surveyor for many years; called in history a “Royal Surveyor.” To him was assigned the responsibility of running and establishing the northern boundary between Maine and New Hampshire, an undertaking that involved many dangers, great difficulties, resolution, and endurance as his Journal, which will follow, fully proves. He had three sons and two or more daughters, who lived to maturity. His death occurred in 1807, at the age of 96”. —

[Saco Valley settlements and families: historical, biographical,  Volume 1 By Gideon Tibbetts Ridlon,  Portland, ME., publsihed by the author, 1895.]

WALTER BRYENT’S JOURNAL

“1741. March 13. Fryday. I set out from New-Market with eight men to assist me in running and marking out one of the Province Bounderys—lodged at Cocheco.

14. Saturday. Sent our Baggage on loging sleds to Rochester from Cocheco under the care of three men, these continuing with me at Cocheco, it being foul weather.

15. Sunday. Attended Public worship at Cocheco and in the evening went to Rochester and lodged there.

16. Monday. Travelled through the upper part of Rochester and lodg’d in a Loging Camp.

17. Tuesday. West on Salmon Fall River & travelled up said River on the ice above the second pond and campt.

18. Wednesday. Went to the third pond, & about two of the clock in the afternoon it rained and snow’d very hard & oblidg’d us to camp—extream stormy that night and two men sick.

19. Thursday. Went to the head of Nechawannock River and there set my course, being north two Degrees West, but by the needle North Eight Degrees East, and run half a mile on a neck of land with three men—then returne’d to the other five and campt.

20. Fryday. Crost the head pond which was a mile over, and at two hundred rods distance from sd head pond was another which lay so in my course that I crost it three times, and has communication with Mousum River as I suppose—from the last mention’d pond, for six mile togather I found the land to be pretty even, the growth generally White and Pitch Pine, (N. B. At the end of every mile I mark’d a tree where the place would admit of it, with the number of miles from the head of Nechwannock River.) Went over a mountain from the summit of which I plainly see White Hills & Ossipa Pond which [pond] bore about North West and was about four mile distant. There also lay on the north side of said Mountain at a mile distant a pond in the form of a circle, of the diameter of three miles, the East end of which I crost. I also crost the River which comes from the East and runs into said pond & campt, had good travelling to-day & went between seven and eight miles.

21. Saturday. In travelling five miles (the land pretty level) from the place where I campt last night. I came to a river which runs out from the last mention’d pond & there track’d an Indian & three Dogs, kill’d two Deer & Campt,

22. Sunday. Remain’d in my Camp & about nine o’clock at night we was hail’d by two Indians (who were within fifteen rods of it) in so broken English that they called three times before I could understand what they said, which was, “What you do there,”—upon which I spoke to them and immediately upon my speaking they asked what news. I told them it was Peace. They answered. “May be no.” But however, upon my telling them they should not be hurt, and bidding them to come to the Camp, they came and behaved very orderly and gave me an account of Ossipa pond & River, as also of a place call’d Pigwacket. They told me the way to know when I was at Pigwacket was by observing a certain River which had three large hills on the southwest side of it, which narrative of said Indians respecting Ossipa & Co., I found to correspond pretty well with my observations. They also informed me of their names which were Sentur & Pease. Sentur is an old man, was in Capt. Lovewell’s fight, at which time he was much wounded and lost one of his eyes; the other is a young man. They informed me their living wawherewith to mend them. They would have purchased a gun of me, but could not spare one. They were very inquisitive to know what bro’t Englishmen so far in the woods in peace; whereupon I informed them. And upon the whole they said they tho’t it was war finding Englishmen so far in the woods & further that there were sundrycompany’s of Indians a hunting & they believed that none of sd company’s would let me proceed if they should meet me.

23. Monday. Parted with Indians & went to Ossipa River which is fifteen mile from the head of Salmon Fall which number of miles I marked on a pretty large tree that lay convenient. (And in my return I found on said tree a sword handsomely formed grasp’d by a hand.) One mile from Ossipa River came to a mountain from the top of which I saw the White Hills. Travell’d over five large mountains. Campt.

24. Tuesday. Found the snow very soft today, so that we sunk half leg deep in snowshoes. See where two Indians had Campt on Hemlock Boughs. Campt. Snow’d all night.

25. Wednesday. Continued snowing all day & night. The general depth of the snow which fell last night & today was four feet and a half to five feet deep.

26. Thursday. The weather fair and clear and in my travel today saw the White Hills which were West and by North from me, and about seven miles distant as near as I could guess. I also see Pigwacket Plain or Intervale Land as also Pigwaket River which runs from the North West to the South East and cuts the aforesaid Interval to two Triangles, it lying North & South about eight miles in length & four in breadth. About two or three miles beyond Pigwaket, I saw a large body of Water three or four miles long & half a mile broad, but whether River ur Pond 1 do not know.

27. Fryday. Finding the travelling Difficult by the softness of the snow and the Rivers and Brooks breaking up, togather with some backwardness in my men to venture any further, I concluded to return which I did accordingly, and on Wednesday the first of April we got safe back to New-Market and all in good health.

Walter Bryent.”

All Published


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