Site No. 40: 51 North Main Street. This house was originally in Durham when it was built by Capt. Benjamin Smith. He was a younger brother of Col. Joseph Smith, who lived across town in the brick garrison. Benjamin farmed this property—which was quite large at the time. He fought in the Indian Wars and during the Revolution he was on the Committee of Safety. Various Smith heirs and widows owned the property for about a century—until 1864. Here are the four owners who lived here for the next 150 years.
Ai T. Gilman bought the property when it was in Durham. He farmed it and sold off some of the land. After it became part of Newmarket and the old Durham Side School burned down, Mr. Gilman built the foundation of the new Durham Side Primary School—Site No. 39.
Oliver Sanborn from Franklin, New Hampshire was next. He married Newmarket lass Ella Demeritt and moved to town. He managed the Newmarket mills dairy farm before buying this property in 1890. Like Mr. Gilman, he sold off some land as well—and created two new streets: Lamprey Street and Sanborn Avenue.
One August day in 1907, Mr. Sanborn and his neighbor were out haying on Bay Road. They came upon the scene of a horrific murder-suicide attempt involving unrequited love. Both victims were barely alive, and Mr. Sanborn took his horse-drawn hay wagon into town to fetch police and a doctor. The rest of this story can be seen online.
After Mr. Sanborn was Dr. John Dennison Butler. He set up his practice in town six years before the 1918 flu pandemic nearly killed him. Fortunately, he recovered. Dr. Butler was noted for his “Swat the Fly” campaigns. He lectured about the dangers lurking in uncovered garbage pails; then he handed out fly swatters to the children.
In 1953 Forbes and Sylvia Getchell moved in. They lived here for nearly 60 years, raising their family here. For 33 years, Forbes walked downtown to his dental practice in the old Branscomb’s Tavern. Sylvia was a school librarian in town. Both Getchells shared a deep interest in history. They were charter members of the New Market Historical Society, and instrumental in transforming the old school on Zion Hill into the Stone School Museum. Sylvia’s research into Newmarket history has been a major resource for this tour. Her 1984 book, The Tide Turns on the Lamprey is available for sale at the Stone School Museum.
For the next stop, walk down Bay Road, past the granite buildings to Bryant Rock Condominiums. Follow the brick path to the waterfront.
END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.
Mr. Smith was the son of Capt. John and Susannah (Chesley) Smith, he was baptized at the old Smith Garrison in Lubberland (Bay Road). His father left him the far eastern section of the Smith Garrison property which bordered 280 acres along the eastern part of the Lamprey River.
He built this house and farmed all surrounding lands, including down the hill along the old Indian encampment. He built an early mill at the first falls of the Lamprey. In 1746 & 1748 he enlisted as a sergeant during the Indian Wars carrying provisions to the NH frontier. He was elected as a selectman and a member of the Committee of Safety during the Revolution. At age 70 he addressed those Revolutionary soldiers going off to front after hearing the Lexington alarm.
His son, Lt. John Smith (b. 1732) grew up here, later moved to Dover became a selectman, representative and Judge of the Strafford County Superior Court. Several members of Benjamin’s family farmed the land after his death, and there was a succession of sales of the property for over 100 years mostly among heirs and widows (Smiths, Chapmans, Stilson, Copps ) until 1846 when Paul Randall sold the property to Ai Gilman.
Gilman owned and worked the farm between 1864 and 1890. He sold five parcels of the land over the years:
1) in 1865 to Allen Pride (a ship builder, and painter employed by the Newmarket Manufacturing Company to paint the houses the company built in “Little Canada” in 1881);
2) 1871 to Samuel Savage (a building contractor who built several farms in the area as well as Frank Lang’s Blacksmith Shop);
3) 1873 to John Ham (the butcher who built a slaughterhouse on the property and Ham Street was so named);
4) 1879 to Charles Chapman (a lumberman who in 1880 supplied lumber for the new mill for the NMCo.);
5) 1890 to Frank E. Lang (the blacksmith who specialized in plows. farming tools, horse shoeing and jobbing).
Ai was active in town affairs; in 1888 he was appointed to the town committee to determine the best location and cost of construction for a new school to be located on Durhamside. The site chosen was directly across from his barn on land purchased from the Newmarket Manufacturing Company.
He served in many town offices: selectman, tax collector, assessor, and “walker of fences”. He was an active member of local and county Republican party, the Baptist church, and the Rising Star Masonic Lodge, an organization in which he held several offices, and when he died in 1891 at age 71, he left $500 to their relief fund. He sold the farm to Mr. Oliver P. Sanborn in 1890.
(photo taken of the Benjamin Smith House around 1940)
Oliver was born in Franklin NH in 1849. When his father Piper died at age 50, Oliver was elven years old and the care and labor of the farm fell on his and his two older brother’s shoulders. But when he turned fifteen, his brothers had enlisted in the Union Army, went off to war leaving his mother and himself to take over the farm. In spite of his youth, he made the task a financial success. He soon acquired a herd of cows and began the production of milk, retailing the same the same at Franklin village.
His brother Horace died in the war in 1862 at Yorktown, VA at age 23. His oldest brother August became a Captain in the 5th NH Infantry and didn’t return until after 1864.
Oliver’s mother was born in Durham to Vincent Meserve, and Oliver’s sister Mary married a Mr. Neal and ran a hostelry in South Newmarket. During visits back to the area, he met Ella F. Demeritt of Newmarket, whom he married on Jan 24, 1875. He and his wife left Franklin and moved to Newmarket in 1883. His mother came as well and took a position in town as a housekeeper, she died in 1897 and is buried in Franklin.
For four years Oliver had charge of the Newmarket Manufacturing Company corporation farm, under Mill Agent A. J. Nichols, with whom he became close friends. In 1890 he purchased the Gilman farm, and continued farming.
He made a substantial amount of money when he surveyed and subdivided several house lots on the property and created two streets in 1894 running through the property, one of which he named Sanborn Avenue, the other was Lamprey Street.
That still left a lot of grazing property along the Bay Road that came with the Gilman farm. He kept a small but very select herd of cows and continued the business of milk production that he mastered as a teenager.
Active in town affairs, he served as road agent twice, and was elected as a selectman. He was past chancellor of Pioneer Lodge #1 Knights of Pyhtias, and was an active member of the Lamprey River Grange.
He and Ella had two sons: Guy born 1880, and Giles born 1885; unfortunately, they both died at age two.
In 1887, while assisting moving two huge derricks into the millyard prior to repairing the dam, one of the large masts fell and badly injured his leg. No broken bones, but he was carried to his home where he was laid up for several weeks.
His barn was struck by lightning in a severe thunderstorm in Sept 1903, killing a horse belonging to Mr. T.M. Joy which he boarded in the barn. The bolt struck the ridgepole of the barn, passed through the hayloft without setting the hay on fire and entered the rear of the stall. A horse in the next stall was uninjured. This same barn which faced the newly created street of Sanborn Avenue, was later remodeled into the home and office of Charles Lavallee in 1925. (Mr. Lavallee himself, a resident of Newmarket for over 30 years, died in the house after a long illness in April 1931.)
In August 1907, about five o’clock in the afternoon while out haying in one of his remote fields on a lonely spot on the Bay road, close to the former slaughterhouse of Charles Dockum, he and Mr. Olin Stevens came across a gruesome site: two people had been shot and were groaning on the side of the road. Jerry Kenerson, age 36, was infatuated with a Miss Rose Keniston who was not quite 15 years old. She was a young girl with whom he was infatuated and felt he was deeply in love, and she did not return his feeling. He shot her two times with a shotgun and then turned the shotgun on himself, shooting twice, each shot by itself would have been fatal. Oliver drove his hay rack as quickly as he could to town to fetch Dr. George Towle and Police Chief Brackett. When they returned the girl was unconscious but still breathing, and the boy was able to make himself understood but just barely. There was nothing to be done, as the conditions of both were evidently fatal, and moving them was not considered advisable. Both died where they were found, Jerry about six o’clock, and Rose some two hours later. The papers at the time berated the Doctor, the Police Chief, Oliver and Mr. Stevens all for inhumane treatment and not trying to save Miss Keniston’s life. It wasn’t until a complete investigation by the County Medical Referee, Dr. Lance (assisted by Dr. Morse, and Sheriff Corliss) exonerated the 4 who responded to the scene.
When Oliver died in 1911, the house remained in his wife Ella’s name until her death in 1926. She had deeded the home to her sister Josephine who in 1935 sold the house to Dr. Butler’s wife Paulize.
After the Great Depression Dr. John Butler anf his wife moved into the house shortly after they purchased it. Dr. John Dennison Butler was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia in 1880, he came to Newmarket in February 1912 from a practice in Biddeford, Maine. He set up his office downtown in the one vacated Dr. Samuel Greene, and later moved his practice to his home and practiced medicine from the ell of the house for 30 years.
(photo: Dr. John D. Butler)
During the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic in Newmarket, in Oct 1918 with over 500 confirmed cases, he attended sick patients and was on call both day and night for over a month. He too contracted the disease, was ill and confined to his bed for a week. During that time a makeshift hospital was set by and run by two nurses from Boston under the auspices of the Red Cross and in consultation with Dr. Butler and Dr. Max Baker of Newmarket.
While he was ill, a Dr. Cleon W. Colby had just arrived in Newmarket visiting his in-laws Mr. & Mrs. John Griffin. He was recruited to attend Dr. Butler’s patients and others during the pandemic.
Dr. Butler was a Newmarket resident for over 40 years. He was noted for his “Swat the Fly” campaigns, where he would lecture about the unsanitary danger of uncovered garbage pails and the diseases carried on the feet of the common house fly. He would hand out fly swatters to children attending his lectures and send them home to Swat The Fly.
He was an active member of the Eagles and Forresters. His wife belonged to the Women’s Club, and the couple always participated in the card game Whist party craze, often winning the consolation prize. In 1931 he was the first in town to install a gas range for cooking in his home. The Phil-gas range and equipment was installed by the Keenan Company of Dover, it was the same system that had been put in Willey’s lunch awhile back, and the Butler’s had given it a review of “excellent results”.
He married Paulzine Denault in Nova Scotia, and the two had a daughter Lorretta who attended Newmarket schools. She was a talented singer who entered the medical field, doing her training at Mass General Hospital in Boston in 1929. She later married Peter Oulette and moved to Salisbury. Mass.. Dr. Butler died in March 1953 at age 72 after a long illness. He and his wife are buried in Calvary cemetery.
Though Forbes and Sylvia Getchell grew up in Durham, they have lived in Newmarket long enough to be called natives. Forbes was in the Army in WWII, he arrived home in 1945 and they both finished UNH in 1947. While he started Dental School at N.Y.U. Sylvia got her graduate degree in Library Science at Simmons. They were married in 1948, spending three more years in the big city. In 1951 they settled in Newmarket and he began his 33 years of dental practice here.
They purchased the Benjamin Smith house in 1953. He turned Doctor Butler’s old office ( the back ell of the house) into his workshop where he artistically crafted his miniature wooden birds using dental tools.
He served for nine years on the School Board. Both husband and wife were active members of the Community Church, and they were Scouting family for years. Sylvia was the Newmarket School librarian for 15 years. Forbes was Chairman of the town’s 250th celebrations in 1977. He served on the N.H. Board of Dental Examiners and the New England Regional Board of Examiners and was also a clinical instructor at the Dental Hygiene School in Concord.
Their deep interest in history saw them as an active team of the 1st Newmarket Colonial Militia. They took part in the colonial “encampments” at area schools, and gave demonstrations about 18th century medicine and home life.
In 1966 they were charter members of the New Market Historical Society and were instrumental in turning the Old Stone School on Zion Hill into the Stone School Museum. Sylvia had been Curator of the Stone School Muesum since its inception and remained collecting and documenting donationation until shortly befopre her death . They both died in May, 2012.
Sylvia created a library labelling system for the Stone School Museum that is still used today.