Friday, May 1, 2015

Corrections to the Story of Hilton Point. Or “Why Historians should listen to Genealogists”

On Friday, 1 May 2015 I posted a “Photo Friday” story about Hilton Point in Dover, New Hampshire, with photos of the two memorials built there to the memory of Edward Hilton.  Both memorials state that New Hampshire’s first permanent settlement was when Edward Hilton arrived in 1623 to fish. 

I checked the official government website for the state of New Hampshire,   The page with the history of our state reads “… in 1623, under the authority of an English land-grant, Captain John Mason, in conjunction with several others, sent David Thomson, A Scotsman, And Edward and Thomas [sic] Hilton, fish merchants of London, with a number of other people in two divisions to establish a fishing colony in what is now New Hampshire, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River…. the Hilton brothers set up their fishing stages on a neck of land eight miles above, which they called Northam, afterwards named Dover.”

My blog post used the information on the historical markers, and from several books on the History of New Hampshire.  Were they wrong? 

I didn't use Robert Charles Anderson’s Great Migration series for this blog post, because I was just doing a quick local history post, not a genealogy story.  But I should have.  As fellow blogger Jeanie Roberts pointed out to me in a comment on my blog post, “Edward did not migrate until 1628” according to Anderson.  

I couldn't wait to run to my copy of the Great Migration to see what it said.  I used to teach fourth grade, the year that New Hampshire students learned all about state and local history.  We always taught them that 1623 was THE YEAR.   I was imagining fourth graders being assigned homework, googling the story and reading my blog post. Was it full of wrong information?

Anderson made a good case in Great Migration Begins, Vol. II, page 950. He quoted The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, page 331 (a sketch of Edward Hilton) “He likely made a voyage to Piscataqua with trading goods and began a plantation, unrecorded, in 1628”  and on page 334 (a sketch of his brother William (not Thomas as stated on the New Hampshire state website) “The historian Hubbard cared little about the eastern country and his paragraph about the founding of N.H. (N. E. Reg. 31.179) is mostly false, Hilton did not come to the Piscataqua with David Thomson in 1623 and Chr. Levett’s book proves that no settlement had been made up the river in the spring of 1624”

GDMNH was published in 1939.  The Great Migration Begins was published in 1995.  This is 2015.  Why are we all still saying that New Hampshire’s first permanent settlement was 1623?  Don’t the historians communicate with our great genealogists?

Instead of just updating my first blog post from Friday, I’m also publishing this one, and linking the two posts.  I can’t wait to see if a fourth grader challenges his teacher with this information!

Sources mentioned  (all three are traditional genealogy sources):

The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, by Sibyl Noyes, Charles Thornton Libby and Walter Goodwin Davis, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012 (originally 1939 in five volumes) 

The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620 – 1633, by Robert Charles Anderson, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, three volumes, 1995.

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 31 (1877), page 179 “Some of the Descendants of William Hilton” by John Hassam.

Jeanie Robert's blog The Family Connection blog post 5 January 2013, "Thomas Roberts of Dover, New Hampshire"   

Of course, we have to add an article by Portsmouth historian, J. Dennis Robinson, too!   

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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