Friday, April 6, 2018

A Roadside Plaque You Have Probably Never Noticed in Pelham, New Hampshire

In 1718 a group of Scots Irish settlers from Aghadowey, Northern Ireland left with their minister, Rev. James MacGregor, and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston, Massachusetts. They had permission to settle in Maine, but after spending a cold, hungry winter there, they looked for a new settlement.  In 1719 Rev. MacGregor accepted a temporary position as minister in Dracut, Massachusetts, west of Haverhill on the Merrimack River.  The settlers heard of a grant of land about eight miles north, and wanted to investigate it for their settlement.  Some of the men joined MacGregor and walked from Dracut north.

Along the way these men rested by these rocks for a short Sunday service with Rev. MacGregor.  This spot is known locally as Pulpit Rock.  It is on the east side of Route 38, just north of the Dracut, Massachusetts border, in what is now the town of Pelham, New Hampshire.  I imagine that these Scots Irish settlers must have followed roughly along the current road of Route 38 through the towns of Pelham and Windham up to Beaver Lake in East Derry, New Hampshire.  This is where they approved of the land, and brought their wives, children and families to what became known as Nutfield, and later known as Londonderry, New Hampshire.  On Sunday 23 April 1719 Rev. MacGregor gave another sermon to these families on the banks of Tsienneto or Beaver Lake, which is symbolically the founding date for Londonderry.


PULPIT ROCK
MARKS THE SITE
WHERE THE FIRST SERMON WAS PREACHED
IN WHAT IS NOW PELHAM N.H.
ON A SUNDAY IN APRIL 1719
BY
REV. JAMES McGREGOR
WHO WITH OTHER PIONEERS
ENROUTE FOR PERMANENT SETTLEMENT
STOPPED HERE TO KEEP THE SABBATH
ERECTED BY
PELHAM LADIES CLUB
1932





Caveat!

This is not a bucolic, scenic spot along the highway for tourists tracing their roots, or the routes of the Nutfield settlers.   This spot is located in a busy industrial retail area about one mile north of the border on Route 38, with no parking.  I had to pull over into the mud, between a pile of snow and the roadkill remains of a large raccoon.  Be careful, because there is a very steep ditch along the road.   Once you have found a place to park, be careful walking down the side of the ditch because there is loose soil and gravel and you can tumble down the grade.

At the bottom of the ditch I surprised a basking snake.  I wasn't prepared for this on April 2nd, between two snow storms and in the cold weather.  I actually prefer this time of the year for exploring landmarks, cemeteries and historical markers because it is usually between mud season and poison ivy/snakes/mosquitos.  Usually.

If the town of Pelham is expecting this marker to be an attraction in the wake of the 300th anniversary celebrations of Nutfield (neighboring towns of Windham, Londonderry and Derry), they might want to spiff up this historic marker a little bit this year.


For more information see:

Willey’s Book of Nutfield, by George Franklyn Willey, page 51

Fritz Weatherbee’s version of the story of Pulpit Rock, from WMUR TV’s “Chronicle”:

“Our Scotch Irish Roots”, by Richard Holmes, at the Londonderry Online News website, posted July 2014:
http://www.londonderrynh.net/2014/07/our-scotch-irish-roots/74985


--------------------------------------

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Roadside Plaque You Have Probably Never Noticed", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 6, 2018, (  https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-roadside-plaque-you-have-probably.html: accessed [access date]).

4 comments:

  1. I was under the impression that the 1718 folks, all 5 ships, were turned away from Boston and then made their way down east to Cape Elizabeth (now Portland),ME where they settled in. This is the first I've heard of any of them returning to Boston and making their way west. I'd be interested in anything further anyone has on the Five Ships as I suspect my immigrant ancestor was aboard the ship from Kilrea, Co. Derry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Search this blog for all the stories about the Nutfield settlement in Londonderry, New Hampshire. You can also search online for information about the settlement at Worcester, Massachusetts.

      Delete
    2. I think my family built/owned the 5 ships
      Justice James McKeen was my ancestor

      Delete