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Lancaster celebrates 254th anniversary


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
July 11, 2018
LANCASTER — The town of Lancaster celebrated its 254th year of existence on July 5. In 254 years, the town, of course, has seen several changes, however there are some in town that long for the simpler times of the past. Some residents yearn for the days of the horse and carriage in the Victorian age where women wore elegant dresses and men were always seen in suits and hats. Or some would like to fast forward to the 1950's, when residents could enjoy a malt chocolate frappe at the Lancaster Diner then catch the show at the Rialto Theatre. Because that is not possible save for the show at the Rialto, Lancaster residents relish in it's rich history and enjoy paging through old books and pictures in hopes to learn more about what life was like in our town so many years ago.

Lancaster was granted as Upper Coös in 1763 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth to Captain David Page of Petersham, Mass. The name 'Coös' was derived from an Indian name 'Cohoss,' or 'Cowas.' This was how this northern area was referred before the settlement of many towns. The town was settled one year later by Page's son, David Page, Jr., and Emmons Stockwell. Lancaster, at one time, actually included parts of Vermont. The town was named after Lancaster, Massachusetts, the hometown of an early Lancaster settler. It was a group of Lancaster settlers who named the mountains included in the Presidential Range, one of those settlers was Reverend Joshua Weeks. In 1771, Benjamin Sawyer and Timothy Nash of Lancaster stumbled upon Crawford Notch which provided a faster way to reach Portland, Maine.

The history of the incorporation began when Page became 'dissatisfied' with a parcel of land given to him in Haverhill. Page proceeded to gather up to 70 other people to settle a town in Upper Coos, Page had his eyes set on the very rich meadow-land on the Connecticut River. Page had a friend named Emmons Stockwell, a member of Roger's Rangers who knew the land. An excerpt from the "Town History, Lancaster, N.H. 1900" reads, "Knowing how desirous Governor Wentworth was to grant charters, and lay the whole country under the rule of the king, Page and his followers were encouraged to ask for a charter of the rich meadows, which was no sooner asked for than granted. In fact, many of the governor's warmest friends were among the grantees."

Stonington, which was granted to John Hogg in 1761, bordered the new would be Lancaster that included the meadows Page wanted as part of Lancaster. This would have put Lancaster as far south as Dalton, Whitefield and Littleton.

Another excerpt reads, "The desire of David Page to get as good land as there was within his supposed grant, led him to take possession of the broad meadows, then near the centre of Stonington, under the supposition that he was within his lawful limits."

After the charter was granted, David Page, Jr. and Stockwell took over the land within the year. The two built a log cabin during the fall by the meadows and used the grass to feed cattle that would arrive later that spring.

The charter reads:

By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King,

Defender of the Faith &c.

To all Persons to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting.

Know ye, that We of our special Grace, certain knowledge, and meer Motion, for

the due Encouragement of settling a New Plantation within our said Province,

by and with the Advice of our Trusty and Well-beloved Benning Wentworth,

Esqr; Our Governor and Commander in Chief of Our said Province of New

Hampshire in New England, and of our Council of the said Province ; Have,

upon the Conditions and Reservations herein after made, given and granted, and

by these Presents, for us. our Heirs, and Successors, do give and grant in equal

Shares, unto Our loving Subjects, Inhabitants of Our said Province of New-

Hampshire, and Our other Governments, and to their Heirs and Assigns for ever,

whose Names are entered on this Grant, to be divided to and amongst them into

Seventy Six equal Shares, all that Tract or Parcel of Land situate, lying and

being within our said Province of New-Hampshire, containing by ad measurement

Twenty three Thousand & Forty Acres, which Tract is to contain six Miles

square, and no more; out of which an Allowance is to be made for High Ways

and unimprovable Lands by Rocks, Ponds, Mountains and Rivers, One Thousand

and Forty acres free, according to a Plan and Survey thereof, made by our said

Governors's Order, and returned into the Secretary's Office, and hereunto an-

nexed, butted and bounded as follows, Viz. Beginning at a Stake & Stones

standing on bank of the Easterly side of Connecticut River, which is the South

Westerly Corner bounds of Stonington, thence running South fifty five Deg B East

seven Miles by Stonington To the South Easterly corner thereof, then turning off

& Running South Sixty nine Deg" West Ten Miles, then turning off again &

Running North twenty six Degrees West to Connecticut River thence up the River

as that tends to the Stake & stones first above Mentioned the Bounds begun at

And that the same be, and hereby is incorporated into a Township by the Name

of Lancaster And the Inhabitants that do or shall hereafter inhabit the said Town-

ship, are hereby declared to be Enfranchized with and entitled to all and every

the Privileges and Immunities that Towns within Our Province by Law Exercise

and Enjoy: And other further, that the said Town as soon as there shall be Fifty

Families resident and settled thereon, shall have the Liberty of holding Two

Fairs, one of which shall be held on And the other on the annually, which Fairs are not to continue longer than the respective following the said and that as soon as said Town shall consist of Fifty Families, a Market may be opened and kept one or more Days in each Week, as may be thought most advantageous to the Inhabitants. Also, that the first meeting for the Choice of Town Officers,

agreeable to the Laws of our said Province, shall be held on the first Tuesday in

August next which said Meeting shall be Notified by David Page who is hereby

also appointed the Moderator of the said first Meeting, which he is to Notify and

Govern agreeable to the Laws and Customs of Our said Province ; and that the

annual Meeting for ever hereafter for the Choice of such Officers for the said

Town, shall be on the Second Tuesday of March annually, To Have and to

Hold the said Tract of Land as above expressed, together with all Privileges and

Appurtenances, to them and their respective Heirs and Assigns forever, upon the

following conditions, viz.

I. That every Grantee, his Heirs or Assigns shall plant and cultivate five Acres

of Land within the Term of five Years for every fifty Acres contained in his or

their Share or Proportion of Land in said Township, and continue to improve and

settle the same by additional Cultivation, on Penalty of the Forfeiture of his Grant

or Share in the said Township, and of its reverting to Us, our Heirs and Suc-

cessors, to be by Us or Them Re-granted to such of Our Subjects as shall effec-

tually settle and cultivate the same.

II. That all white and other Pine Trees within the said Township, fit for Mast-

ing Our Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that Use, and none to be cut or

felled without Our special License for so doing first had and obtained, upon the

Penalty of the Forfeiture of the Right of such Grantee, his Heirs and Assigns, to

Us, our Heirs and Successors, as well as being subject to the Penalty of any Act

or Acts of Parliament that now are, or hereafter shall be Enacted.

III. That before any Division of the Lands be made to and among the

Grantees, a Tract of Land as near the Centre of said Township as the Land will

admit of, shall be reserved and marked out for Town Lots, one of each shall be

allotted to each Grantee of the Contents of one Acre.

IV. Yielding and paying therefor to Us, our Heirs and Successors for the

Space of ten Years, to be computed from the Date hereof, the Rent of one Ear of

Indian Corn only, on the twenty-fifth Day of December annually, if lawfully

demanded, the first Payment to be made on the twenty-fifth Day of December,

1763.

V. Every Proprietor, Settler or Inhabitant, shall yield and pay unto Us, our

Heir and Successors yearly, and every year forever, from and after the Expiration

of ten years from the above said twenty-fifth Day of December, namely, on the

twenty-fifth day of December, which will be in the Year of Our Lord 1773 One

Shilling Proclamation Money for every Hundred Acres he so owns, settles or pos-

sesses, and so in Proportion for a greater or lesser Tract of the said Land ; which

Money shall be paid by the respective Persons above said, their Heirs or Assigns,

in our Council Chamber in Portsmouth, or to such Officer or Officers as shall be

appointed to receive the same ; and this is to be in Lieu of all other Rents and

Services whatsoever.

In Testimony whereof we have caused the Seal of our said Province to be here-

unto affixed. Witness Benning Wentworth, Esq ; Our Governor and Com-

mander in Chief of Our Province, the Fifth Day of July in the Year of our Lord

Christ, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty three and in the Third Year of

Our Reign.

B. Wentworth —

By His Excellency's Command,

With Advice of Council, T. Atkinson Jun r Sec r *

Province of New Hamp' July 6 1763

Recorded according to the original under the Provincial Seal

David Page

David Page Jun r

Abraham Byaur

Reuben Stone

John Grout

John Grout Jun r

Jonathan Grout

Solomon Willson

Joseph Stowell

Joseph Page

William Dagget

Isaac Ball

Solomon Fay

Jotham Death

John Sanders

Elisha Crossby

Luke Lincoln

David Lawson

Silas Rice

Thos Carter

Ephraim Sterns

James Read

Timothy Whitney

Thomas Rice

John Sawyer

John Wait

Samuel Marble

Joseph Marble

Jonathan Houghton

John Rogers

Abner Holden

Stanton Printice

Benj a Willson

Stephen Ernes

John Phelps

William Page

Nathaniel Page

John Warden

Silas Bennit

Thomas Shattock

Ephraim Shattock

Silas Shattock

Isreal Hale

Isreal Hale Jun r

Daniel Hale

William Read

Benj a Baxter

Math w Thornton Esq

And w Wiggins Esq r

Mesech Weare Esq r

Maj r John Tolford

Benj a Man

Daniel Miles

Thomas Rogers

John Duncan

Nathaniel Smith

Charles How

Daniel Searles

Isaac Wood

Nathaniel Richardson

Ebenezer Blunt

John Herriman

Ephraim Noyce

Benjamin Sawyer

Hon : Jos h Newmarch

Nath 1 Barrel

Daniel Warner

James Nevin

Rev d Mr. Joshua Wing te Weeks

& Benj a Stevens

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