Shipbuilders of Newmarket

    Perhaps our earliest shipbuilder was Edward Taylor who lived and worked at Salmon Falls before moving to Lamprey River Village.  Taylor was killed by Indians at Lamprey River on April 26, 1704, and his wife and son were taken captive.

    George Hilton (b.1765; d. 1821, ae.56), William Coffin (died 1819), William Simpson, Michael Shute, William  Badge, John William Shute were all ship builders who worked in shipyards at both the Lamprey and Squamscot Rivers.  Zechurian Beals and Dudley Watson also built ships at Newfields where lumber and shooks were shipped directly to the West Indies.

    John Burley of New Market was a farmer and a sea captain, as was his son Nathaniel E. BurleyStephen Boardman (b.1777), the grandson of Deacon Stephen Boardman, was a blacksmith, a trader and shipbuilder at Lamprey River.  Joshua Mitchell and Hubartus Neal (1719-1806) who lived near the Moody Parsonage were also shipwrights.   (1)

    Joseph Graves (b.1762, d.1827)  shipwright who also served in the Continental Army from Newmarket in July 1789.  He married Betsey Badger, sister of Master shipwright William Badger of Portsmouth/Kittery. His son Samuel Graves born in Newmarket 1787 was lost at sea on the Privateer “Wasp” in the War of 1812.

    General James Hill (1734-1811) is perhaps the more famous of our shipbuilders.  He moved into the Moody Parsonage which had been owned by his son-in-law and moved his shipbuilding business from Lamprey River Village to the Squamscot River farther down the Bay (but still in New Market). 

    Among General Hill’s written records is the story of Caleb Mitchel, who was indentured to General Hill in 1765.

    Caleb Mitchel, born in Newbury, MA was the only son among seven children of Joshua and Esther Mitchel.  Joshua was a successful and well-known shipwright in Newbury.  When Ester died shortly after her last daughter was born, Joshua married Alice Holt in 1756 and the entire family moved to the Rockingham Junction area of Newmarket, where he worked building ships on the shores of Great Bay.  Joshua and Alice had three more children before he died at age 47 in 1761.  In his detailed will he appointed his second wife Alice as executrix of his estate, and he named two of his shipwright friends: Michael Shute and Hubertus Neal, as his estate appraisers. His estate was listed as 18,194 pounds – which attests to the success Joshua had as a ship builder before the Revolution.

    The Indenture contract was effective in 1765, four years after Joshua died and when Caleb would have been about 15 years old.  Caleb was indentured for six and a half years which meant he would turn age 21 in 1771. 

    The Indenture document attests to the strict rules and expectations for both apprentice (more of an indentured servant) and sponsor in the mid- to late 1700s when many craftsmen took an apprentice into the family household. 

    The form of indenture shown below is very similar to others that Jacob Fowler oversaw on other guardianship cases he was assigned to administer.

    An Indenture Binding An Apprentice In The Shipbuilding Trade To James Hill — 1765.

    “This Indenture Witnesseth : That Calib Mitchel Son of Joshua Mitchel of Newmarket in the Provence of New Hampshire —   Ship Right Hath Put himself, and By these Presents Doth voluntarily and of his own free will & accord also by & with the consent of his Guardian Jacob Fowler of Newmarket & Provence a foresaid,  hath put himself apprentice to James Hill of Newmarket and Provence aforesaid,

    Shipright to Learn his art and trade or Ministery & live with them after the manner of an apprentice — serve from the Day of the Date of these Presents for & During the term of Six years, five months & eight Days Next enseuinging to Be compleet & endaering all which term the said apprentice his Said Marster or mistres faithfully Shall Serve there Secrets Keep there Lawfull commands, Gladly every whare obey :

    He Do No Damage to his Said Master or mistres Nor See it Done by others without letting or Giving Notice thereof to his Said marster or mistres he shall Not waste his said marsters or mistress Goods Nor Lend them to unlawfully to any,

    He shall not commit Fornication Nor contract matrimony within the Said term No be at Cards, Dice or any other unlawfull Game he Shall Not Play where by his Said master or mistress may have Damage with his own Goods Nor the Goods of others ;

    He Shall Nott absent himself by Day or by Night from his Said marsters Service without his or their Leave;  Nor hant ale bowses taverns or Play Howses : but in all things behave  himself as a faithfull apprentice ought to Do toward his Said marster or mistres.

    Duering the Said Term & the Said marster  & mistres Doth hereby Covenant & Promas to tech & Instruct or cause to be taught & Instructed in the art trade or misteiy of a ship right by the Best ways or mens He may or Can be taught if the Said apprintice be capable to Larn finding unto Said apprintice Good & Suffitiaut meet Drink Washing & Lodging & all Nessesaries both in Sickness & in helth :

    Duering Said term & at the Expiration of Said term to Give unto Said apprintice two Suts of apperril for all Parts of the Body : the one fit for Lords Days the oather fit for working days allso Shall Instruct Said apprintice to Read wright & Shipher so as to Keep tradsmans Books Suitable for Such an apprentice”.

    “In testimony where of the Perties to the Presents have here unto Interchengibly Set there Hands & Seale the thirty first Day of October and in the Six year of the Raign of our sovereign Lord George the third By the Grace of God King of Grate Britton france &c Ano &ne Domn one thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty five .

    Signed Sealed & Delivered James Hill In Presents of us Sarah Hill, John Marsters,  James Coffin.” (2)

    Notably, James Hill’s wife Sarah (Coffin) Hill — the “mistres”— was a signator.  It looks like her brother James Coffin also signed.  (Was he was living with the Hills at the time—perhaps honing his shipbuilding skills as well?)  At any rate, taking on an apprentice seemed to be a family affair.

    Calib Mitchel fought in the Revolution, enlisting first from Cambridge, MA in 1775.  He re-enlisted on the first of January 1776., and discharged on the last day of December 1776  where  settled in Exeter working as a ship’s carpenter.  He married Anna Haines in 1777 and raised a family.  After suffering a paralytic shock in 1812, he was left bedridden from palsy and afflicted in memory. He was cared for by his children; who were in need of assistance.  He applied for and received a military pension of $44.  Calib died August 7, 1823—six months after his wife Anna died.  At the time of his death, he was 76 years old; his death certificate signed by Fred S. Fellows of Exeter indicates a 1747 birthdate.  

    Some of the early Newmarket ships built along the Lamprey

    At the town landing Stephen Boardman, David Chapman, Jr. and others built vessels of 200-300 tons.  The sawpits on which the lumber was cut in those days was a wooden frame about seven feet high.  A long saw was used, and the man on the ground wore gauze around his head in order to keep the sawdust out of his eyes.  Sawing by steam was not known then.  Of all the early ships launched here, only three names are left to us.  

    The Dolphin,   1783,   28 tons            41’10”   x 12’8”   6’2” — Joseph Reed, Master

    The Fanny,      1792,  228 tons           82’9”     x 25’3”   12’6” – Robert Junkins

    True John,       1784,   140 tons           68’5”                               — John Wells         (3)

    Shipbuilding changed after the 1700s.  During the clipper period almost all new ships were launched at or near Portsmouth.  The old shipyards at Exeter, Newmarket, Durham and Dover all had too little depth of water.  Even so, between 1800 and 1860 some 552 vessels were built on the Piscataqua and its tributaries.  Of these, 277 were launched at Portsmouth while 275 were launched from upriver towns.  

     The ship The Nile was the last ship to leave the Exeter Stocks in 1825, it was built by Newmarket shipbuilders George Hilton and John Michael Shute with blacksmith Nataniel Garland.

    The Smaller Craft on the Lamprey

    Even though the larger craft were no longer constructed here, boatbuilding skills were not completely abandoned.  Even up throughout the 1880s and 1890s, small cargo ships with one mast—shipping sloops—were built locally; they continued to make their way up and down the estuary.  A few names survive:

    • Edgar Weston, built in 1875 – Rollinsford/Dover
    • Alice, built in 1872 – Exeter
    • Pinkham, built in 1864 – Durham
    • The Fearless, built in 1870 — Newmarket

    And unique to Great Bay, predating schooners and clippers —- was the gundalow. 

    Gundalow Traffic

    In the early days before the railroad, this flat bottom boat known as a gundalow worked the tides, delivering goods up and down the shallow estuaries of Great Bay.  Before the arrival of NMCo, gundalows transported these goods to Portsmouth harbor:

    • saltmarsh hay harvested along the shore (food and bedding for horses and cattle),
    • fish (smelts),
    • livestock & poultry

    This was in exchange for flour, sugar and rum coming into the harbor from English ships.  Those goods made their way from Portsmouth to the towns along the estuary by way of the gundalow, and fromt the town waterfronts to more remote inland towns.  A February 7th, 1929 article in the Newmarket Advertiser printed an article on this traffic: “…an old Durham resident said he had counted 40 pung loads of beef  [ a pung was the term for a sleigh ]  at Durham’s brick inn, from Vermont, to be delivered at the Durham Landing and to take back rum, molasses and other of life’s then necessities…”

    The old gundalows were built from wood lot timber, mostly by salt-water farmers, fishermen or town traders.  Simply built of heavy timber the gundalow drew very little water, could slip onto a muddy shore, be poled over shallow water, and raise a sail to move a heavy load.  No two gundalows were exactly alike.  Later, from the mid-1820s on, the gundalows would carry into town bales of cotton from the south which had been unloaded from larger ships in Portsmouth Harbor. Once unloaded at the wharves in Lamprey Village, boats were then reloaded with bolts of finished cloth for markets to Portsmouth and beyond.


    Wood logs and cut lumber, loaded onto gundalows, floated out…southern pine which became the flooring in the mills came in.  An important early export dug from the rich blue marine clay along tidal shores were the  fired bricks which were sold  locally and around New England.  Many of the fine fine homes on Beacon Hill were made from these bricks.  There were over 40 brickyards along Great Bay.

    Spindles for cotton mills made in Jewell’s old Spool & Bobbin Factory on Packer’s Falls Road were shipped out on gundalows.  Once Lafayette Hall bought the factory  he turned it into a foundry and manufactured chain link and railroad spikes —those, too,  were all shipped out by gundalow.  

    Scorned by the Portsmouth and Kittery salt-water sea captains, gundalows were humble craft, never meant to go to sea; however, many did go down the coast to Boston and the Cape with brick, granite or lumber, to return the next week with a load of bog hay or meadow-grass.

    In the Lamprey River four large iron rings were drilled into rocks in the channel whereby gundalows could tie up as a floating dock while waiting to move upstream to unload when room opened up at one of the town wharfs.  The larger packet ships used the rings as a threading devise whereby crews put  ropes anchored from the ship thru the rings and ran them back to the ship. Crews then pulled the ship  upriver ring to ring thru the narrow channel. 

    Local merchants J.S. Bennett and Colonel James Creighton built and operated their own gundalows rather than pay others to transport their goods to markets along the New England coast.

    During the early 1800s, a packet service existed between Portsmouth and the Lamprey River.  The packet had two sails and was designed to transport both passengers and cargo.  The record time for a trip from the Lamprey River landing to Portsmouth was 6 hours and 15 min.

    Lamprey River Captains

     Nathaniel Keys was not only the builder, but also the sailing captain of the Monroe, a Piscataqua gundalow.  He launched his ship from Chapman’s Wharf on the Lamprey in 1819, “and when it was launched the boys on the gondola got all wet. “ – Newmarket Advertiser, 1907.

    Stephen Twombly of Dover was owner and captain of the Fox, one of the first in the area.   Later, his son, Captain Samuel Twombly, navigated the Greyhound.

    Newmarket’s Admiral, William L. Caverly (1789-1854), was named after his father, the seagoing Capt. William Caverly.  After learning the ropes on his father’s ship for several years, he became well known in Great Bay as “Admiral Caverly,” in command of a “gondola” that made the rounds between Portsmouth and Newmarket.  (Was this to differentiate himself from his father the Sea Captain?)   By 1820, the Admiral was living in Newmarket, and he remained here for the rest of his life.  According to The Newmarket Advertiser: “He lived in a huge house over the Creek until his death in 1854.”  His wife Mehitable (1785-1855) followed him to the grave the following year.

    The Admiral’s son—also named William—headed west to continue the family tradition on the waters of the Great Lakes.  He lived in Chicago where, engaged in steamboating, he lost his life on Lake Michigan.   Lydia (1809-1855) was the Admiral’s daughter.  Born in Newmarket, she married a ships carpenter from Nottingham, John Bennett Burleigh.  They remained in Newmarket.  Another son, Asa was also born in town.  He married Annie Chitcherson of Lee in 1846 and was a Newmarket town constable in 1852.  At some point they moved to Candia, NH.

    Later on, Jeremiah Langley and his sons in Durham ran a line of barges which transported coal from Portsmouth to Dover, Exeter, Durham and Newmarket.  Some had engines:  Fannie M. – w/10 h.p. engine, Fannie P. Subino;  and some didn’t –No.#3 and #4 barges. They also had two tugs – the Iver and Lester L. which towed larger, unmotorized flat-bottomed barges up and down the Great Bay rivers.

    These “River Men” were a loud, colorful, and profane group. Superstitious and not afraid of taking the law into their own hands, they were always ready with a dram or two of rum.  Even back in 1709 in the Sailours Companion and Counsellor, Cotton Mather railed against superstitious paganism, and the cursing and drunkenness he found aboard ship.  “Let thy tongue be as well hung as the strongest rudder irons.  Why shouldst thou not be as loathe to take Any Obscure, Smutty, Baudy Talk into thy mouth, as to swallow so much filthy bildge water!”

    When former river pilot Harrison Watson died in 1928 at his home on Shackford Point, he was known as the last survivor of the “old Gondola drivers” who hauled coal between Newmarket and Portsmouth.  He also piloted The Fearless which brought new bricks and construction materials from Durham and Dover to build the new Mills of the Newmarket Manufacturing Company.  Many stories were told at his wake attesting to his prowess as a Captain with a raised mug, a boisterous laugh and a scorching tongue. His reputation was as fearless as the name of his boat.   

    Captain Lemuel H. Drew (1803-1879) of Newmarket was a noted packet skipper “in the days when most of the traffic between Dover, Durham, Newmarket, Exeter and other upriver towns was carried on by water.”  His son William’s obituary in 1897 (reprinted in the Newmarket Advertiser from the Boston Globe) mentions his father and includes a detailed description of the boats and the men that sailed them:

    Marvelous stories of Capt. Lemuel’s feats of strength used to be told by the old rivermen…

    These packets were not very big boats and would not measure more than six or seven tons, but they were roomy for their size, carried a large load on a very light draft of water, sailed well and were safer than many much larger crafts.  Like the gondolas—or “gundaloes” as the name has always been pronounced here—the packets were fitted with one very short mast, hardly more than a stump, and carried a lateen sail stretched on a yard of enormous length.

    There were two important advantages in up-river navigation secured by this rig, one was that the craft could pass under bridges without the trouble of opening draws, the other, that in the narrow river and among trees the lofty sail would often get wind enough to keep the vessel moving when there was not a breath of air near the surface of the water.

    The packets carried passengers, liquors, corn and general merchandise, and the gondolas carried wood, hay, potatoes, coal and other heavy or bulky freight.

    Captain Drew for a number of years had a contract for transporting all the coal for the Cocheco mills to Dover from Portsmouth.  This work was done by the gondolas, which carried from 40 to 80 tons at a trip, and at 40 cents a ton.  The gondola men made good pay, although their work was hard.

    For many years Rand’s “victualling cellar” opposite the old Spring market was headquarters for the river men when in Portsmouth; there were several victualling cellars…   The packets  are all gone.  So are the “victualling cellars”…But there are yet remaining a few gondolas, though even in these the vandal hand of improvement has wrought changes, for one or two of them, instead of depending on the 30-foot sweeps which used to do duty as motive power in time of calm, carry donkey engines… This is not so romantic a method of getting along as sweeping or  poling, but it is a good deal easier for the crew.     —-  

                                                                            Portsmouth Corr.  Boston Globe

    Up until the railroad was established, the rivers leading to Great Bay and Portsmouth must have been alive with boat traffic of all kinds at that time.  “Lemmy” and his sons William and George built and owned several boats; the last one was The Lion.  They also built the ill-fated Factory Girl which sailed between Newmarket-Dover and Portsmouth (more about that later).

    Capt Lemelin Drew’s  other son Charles A. Drew ( 1844-1908) also followed in his father’s trade. Charles  was born in Newmarket and moved to Dover when he was 18 years old and shipped on a river packet running between Dover and Portsmouth and remained on the river working as a river pilot and later tug boat captain. He later became Captain  of the tug boats Mystic, Ann and Cocheco which piled on the river and outside Portsmouth Harbor. Since 1898 and up until his death he was employed by the Piscataqua Navigation Company, first as Captain of the tug H.A. Mathes and later the tug Piscataqua.  Like his father, Charles was well respected  and admired all along the ports of the Great Bay. On the day of his funeral all flags were displayed at half mast on the river boats at Portsmouth Harbor, and along the ports of the Bay. 


    Schooners on the Lamprey

    In October, 1880 with much fanfare, the schooner Pencinian  from Bangor, Maine was the first vessel to arrive at Young’s new Wharf off the town landing. The onboard cargo consisted of clapboards, shingles and ashes consigned to George H. Greeley, a tenant in the Mathes Stone Tenement building.  Some schooners laden with coal would dock by the boiler room at mill wharf between Mills No. 2, 5 and 6.

    During the month of June 1882, three large schooners unloaded cargoe along the Lamprey River warfs: The Schooner Charles of Gloucester, MA arrived with a cargoe of fish;  and both the PT Willets and the M.E. Byrad  from Philadelphia arrived loaded with coal for the NMCo.

    In one week in August 1882 three schooners arrived at the town docks:  on the 15th,  The schooner Charles with Captain Johnson from Gloucester made a return trip loaded with salted fish, tongues and sounds for sale; on the 18th  the Schooner P.T. Willits  also made a return trip and arrived at the mill wharf loaded with coal for the NMCo.; and on the 16th the schooner Thomas J. May  also laoded with coal also for the NMCo arrived at the mill wharf.

    However, very few of the large schooners sailed up the Lamprey, as the river depth was too shallow.   River pilots had to be familiar with the twists and turns of the channels, as well as avoiding high wind situations. 

    In the first week of April 1882, Captain Brackett brought the Schooner Cocheco up from Philadelphia loaded with 333 tons of coal; however the ship remained in the lower narrows for about a week before Captain Brackett would bring it in to unload.  The Captain was well aware of  Lamprey river hazards, and he waited to verify a complete ice-out at the wharfs.  The schooner was the first of the season to arrive.

    There was never any river traffic until ice-out, many times tugs were involved in bringing the schooners in thru the narrow channels.

    April 1892 it was announced that … the first schooner of the season, Frank. A. Magee...loaded with 200 tons pig iron for the Squamscott Machione Co. completed a remarkable quick trip — three days bringing her to the Company’s wharf.  She was discharged Monday forenoon, but owing to a high wind, the tug Montana would not venture the trip until tuesday.

    In November 1892 the steam scow Ben Harrison ,  from Rockport, Mass., loaded with granite for the new mill, arrived in the river on a  Sunday, and discharged her cargo on Monday. The captain complained that coming in through the bay the vessel ran aground on the flats, damaging the shaft and other parts of machinery to the sum of $500, and wasn’t able to repair the damage and leave town until Thursday.  It was also announced in the same publication of the Newmarket Advertiser that the sloop News-Letter cleared Portsmouth on Tuesday and will make several trips between that city and Newmarket with cargoes of coal.

    On July 24, 1892 the Scow Newmarket, in tow of the tugboat H.A. Mathes came up river with a cargo of lumber for the new mill. 

    The Newmarket Advertiser printed in November 1902 the following article after the national coal strike had ended.

    ” A scow load of hard coal arrived here Tuesday, the first to be received since the strike.  We understand this load is for the schools, and was ordered before the strike.  Hon. Jeremiah Langley informs us that he is to have some “egg coal” at once and that it will be sold and delivered for about $9.50 per ton.  Mr, Burton, Agent of the Newmarket Manufacturing Company, has also received a scow load, which he will furnish to employees of the company at $7.00 per ton, the actual cost.  This, we understand, was purchased at the mines, and will be delivered to operatives at no cost for cartage.”

    June 1904 - a scow loaded with coal arrived at the NMCo. wharf — just in time, as the company had only enough coal to run for the day.

    1906:  The William H. Davenport

    The Abenaki and the The William H. Davenport  were two large schooners from Perth Amboy, NJ.  Loaded with coal for the NMCo;  they sailed into town the first week of December 1906. The Abenaki unloaded her cargo and sailed out. But the Davenport was discovered to have struck ledge; and water froze in the hold causing considerable damage to her spine.

    Crews were finally able to pump the water out, and her nearly 400 tons of coal were put ashore, but the river by that time had totally frozen in.  (Captain Watson was called to help get her to the wharf, and it said that his language was so profane, that it peeled the paint  off the church steeple.)   It wasn’t until the thaw and ice-out in the last week of March 1907 that the ship broke free of the river’s grasp.  The Davenport  left for repairs in Portland, Maine–never to  return.

    December 1906 had been one of the coldest winters on record for the time.  Not since 1880 had the salt river ever remained frozen over by Dec 1st until the following spring.   Just the year before, the winter of 1905,  the salt river had remained open for navigation all winter long.

    The early 1880s marked the heyday of commerical river traffic and shipping, with as many as eight vessels docking in Dover each week.

    Captain Edward Adams stated he saw 18 packets in one day off Durham Point.  (Adams Point in Durham is named for his family.)   His story is part and parcel of the history of the gundalow on the Seacoast. 

    The term “Packet” describes a service rather than a boat.  In early times,  a boat chartered to carry mail and dispatches was a packet.  The term later was used for any boat that traveled on a regular schedule, carrying mail, passengers and freight;  in mid-19th century Seacoast terms, a packet boat sounds like a smaller version of a gundalow. Durham Resident Gerrish Furber claimed he counted 25 loaded packets on the bay at one time between Fox Point and Thomas Point.  

    Packet service, however, between Portsmouth and the Lamprey River began to wane in popularity after 1850 with the opening of the Lamprey River Railroad Depot. Train service between the two destinations was the beginning of the end for river traffic.  The railroad proved to be a lot quicker  — taking minutes rather than the 6 hour boat ride.  And trains were safer and more comfortable between the two points without having to worry about tide timetables and inclement weather.

    Clearing the channel in the 1881

    In 1881 Congress appropriated $10,000 to improve the shipping of the Lamprey River which was done under the supervision of General Thorn. The Newmarket Advertiser reported on July 16th 1881:

     The tug Lottie  from Exeter brought up two scows into the Lamprey  which will be used instead of a gondola.  “Two scows are achored just below the Lower Narrows, and a crew of men aided by a diver are removing the boulders.  The larger ones are blasted with glycerine, and the fragments are hosted out and dumped near the shore.  A large number of people visit the scene daily to view the operations of the diver and the blasting of rocks”.

    The following week on July 30th it was reported:

    “A guy rope attached to the derricks on the gondola belonging to the parties removing the rocks in the river gave way Saturday, and the derrick fell, breaking into four pieces, one of the segments struck a workman on the head cutting an ugly gash.  This accident will delay the work as another derrick had to be obtained and placed in to position before the labor could go on.”

     In mid-May 1883 a steam dregder had completed its work, and Capt. SImonds and Mr. Tuttle, the contractor, with their crew left the Lamprey to go to Dover to begin dredging parts of the Cocecho River leading into the city docks. 

    Once completed, ships of 300 tons or larger were able to navigate the Lamprey River channel with very little problem.  However, when the mill’s dam at First Falls gave way in 1886, more dredging was required. 

     Within ten years, another obstacle to shipping trade on the other rivers of the Bay would arise:  “the great storm and flood of 1896 crippled many local waterfront businesses and re-deposited much of the silt and sand that been dredged out of river bottoms during the last 25 years.  Newmarket’s new dam which had been built just nine years prior held; but surrounding towns such as Dover had their waterfronts completely destroyed. (4)

    The Last Excursion Gundalow       

    “Captain William Drew is specially remembered in Portsmouth as master of the Dover packet Factory Girl which he brought around to this port from Marblehead, where she was built along in the 50’s and sailed on the river for many years.”

    The Newmarket Advertiser

    Saturday, January 2, 1897

    Capt. Drew’s obituary didn’t mention the ultimate fate of this gundalow about 20 years earlier.   Edward Adams was a crewman on board the Factory Girl was when it sank on July 30, 1873.  There were 19 passengers that day—Newmarket residents and employees of the B.F. Haley tailoring company.

    On its return trip from a picnic at Adams Point,  the boat sailed into Little Bay when a strong wind blew the boat up on a ledge.  The packet turned over on its side , spilling the people into the cold salt walter.  They weren’t far from shore and many swam;  however, three young women drowned, and their bodies weren’t found until three days later.   Abbie Garland, Milly Moulton, and Jennie Burnham were buried at sunset to the tolling of church bells.

    The Last Working Gundalow to leave a Newmarket Wharf

    The Fanny M was built by Captain Edward H. Adams and launched in 1886 from his dock at Adams Point.  It was the last gundalow to operate commercially in the area.  He later sold it to the Coleman brothers Frank, John and Luther.  They took out the mast and sail and  Capt. Frank Coleman bought a power launch, turning the the old gundalow into a tug.  They transported cord wood to Dover Point from Newmarket and Durham, picking up cords from farmers along the route, and selling them in Dover for 50 cents each.  

    The remains of the Fanny M lay on the beach of the MacIntosh Boat yard until it was broken up and burned for firewood—a sad ending to what was once a flourishing shipping industry.

    But Captain Adams’ work and vision would continue even after his passing in 1950. 

    On a rainy day in June, 1982, the replica gundalow CAPTAIN EDWARD H ADAMS was launched into the Piscataqua River while several hundred people lined the banks to watch this historic event.  It took an impressive community effort to build the 70’ replica on the grounds of Strawbery Banke Museum, with a group of dedicated shipwrights and volunteers led by local legendary boat builder Bud McIntosh. This event celebrated the hundreds of cargo-carrying gundalows built in the Piscataqua Region starting in 1650.  At the same time, it celebrated the 20th century creation of a unique teaching platform that travelled to Piscataqua region riverfront towns carrying a message that raised awareness of this region’s maritime heritage and the environmental threats to our rivers.  (5)

    In 2002, the newly-formed Gundalow Company formed, taking charge of the ADAMS gundalow.  Captain Edward Adams’ drawings of the Fanny M (now residing at the Smithsonian Institute) inspired the design of the 2011 gundalow Piscataqua, which can be seen sailing in Portsmouth Harbor today.  Thousands of students have sailed on the Piscataqua, in  programs that weave together environmental science, history and maritime heritage.

    The first House Boat Ever Built on the Bay, July 1902

    As described in the July 11th, Newmarket Advertiser:

    Harry T. Grant  completed the “Ark” the first houseboat ever built in Exeter for use on the Squamscott river.  The boat is achored on the Greenland side of Great Bay and the owner is now occupying it.  The Ark is a double decked boat and is 17x17 feet.  The hull is a flat bottomed scow constructed of heavy plank.  On the lower deck is a dining room, kitchen, refrigerator room, pantry, toilet room and closets.  From the dining room a stairway leads above to a living room, a pretty aspartment, the windows of which command views in all directions.  The boat is fitted with a perfect system of plumbing, water being furnished by a large tank on the upper deck.  The upper deck is broad and of a most inviting appearance, and constitutes a capital lounging appearance.   Railings surround the piaazza on four sides. The boat is handswomely furnished and cost about $500.

    August 1909 - a scow docked at Young’s wharf with a load of bricks (40,000)  for the new paroch1al school.

    Accidents at the town docks

    September 30, 1902 - Two accidents on the same day:  Peter Bennett, while unloading coal from a scow at the Newmarket Manufacturing Co. wharf, was struck on the head by a block of the hoisting apparatus, which gave way.  He received a very painful scalp wound.  Later on the same day, Fred Randall, who was loading wood on a gondola, fell from the woodpile, and broke several bones in his hand, which presvented him from working for some time.

    May 5, 1910 - A young man by the name of Hebert fell off the platform where coal is hoisted for the Newmarket Manufacturing Co.. He struck his head on a scow below. which was being unloaded.  He fractured his skull which killed him instantly.

    View from the river  between 1870 to 1907


    Notes & Commentary

    In addition to the listing below, information for this piece has been gleaned from several articles and obituaries published over 75 years written between 1870 and 1932 by the publishers and reporters of The Newmarket Advertiser.

                                  – John Carmichael, New Market Historical Society

    (1)  History of Newfields, NH by Rev James H. Fitts, published Rumford Press, Concord NH 1912

    (2) Newmarket Early Shipping Industry and the Mitchell / Folsom family by: Moss, Nina Folsom. “A History of William Harrison Folsom”. Salt Lake City: 1973.   And the actual Indenture Document itself can be found at “Family memorial: records of the Boreman, Bordman and Boardman families of New Hampshire and Maine” by Samuel Lane  Boardman, Samuel Lane, 1836-191. Published 1876, Boston Public Library. Section re: General Hill written by the General’s granddaughter.

    (3) Notes sent to the New Market Historical Society in February 1985 by Robert Whitehouse from his father’s collection, a shipping enthusiast and Dover Historian.

    (4)  History of Rockingham County, by Charles A. Hazlett, Richmond-Arnold publishing, Chicago, Ill. 1915, Boat Traffic after 1880. pg 567

     (5)  The Gundalow Company of Portsmouth website.