By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | January 13, 2019
Sophia Cushing was born in Dover, NH, in April 1781, daughter of Thomas Cushing. At the age of thirteen years [1794-95], she began teaching school in the Meaderboro district of Rochester.
She taught next in the “Miltonridge,” i.e., Milton, district of Rochester, at the age of sixteen years [1796-97].
In her first years at “Miltonridge,” she taught at the P. district school and mentions living in the households of early settlers. (She confuses the settlers of a generation before with the town founders of 1802). Prior paragraphs spoke of early settlers Joseph Plumer, Hon. B. Plumer, a state senator, and William Palmer, Esq. All of this – Plummer families, P. district, and Miltonridge – suggests that she began teaching at Plummer’s Ridge.
She, who was there at the founding, seemed to think that Milton was named for the English poet John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. She compared him with Homer (they were both blind poets).
She married (1st), probably in Milton, in 1798, Jonathan Hayes, who died on a trip to San Domingo, West Indies, that very same year. He was a son of Aaron and Deborah (Wingate) Hayes. They had one child.
Next, she taught, and resided in various households, in the Three Ponds district. She left Milton for Gilmanton in 1805.
She married (2nd) in Dover, October 8, 1811, Samuel Wyatt. She became landlady of several notable hotels and, in her later years, wrote an autobiography of her life and experiences. She published it in 1854. She died in Georgetown, MA, December 31, 1857, aged seventy-six years, eight months, and twelve days.
Here is extracted Chapter XII of her 1854 book, Autobiography of a Landlady of the Old School, in which she recounts her time in early Milton. She mentions also her impressions of Milton from several return visits in later years. Her final visit, at the least the last one before her book went to press, was in January 1854.
She begins her tale with some standard Milton information copied from a gazetteer of 1823 (or later).
Milton is bounded north-west by Middleton and Wakefield, east by Salmon Falls river, separating it from Maine; south-west by Farmington. The Salmon Falls river washes its whole east boundary, a distance of thirteen miles; and a branch of the same river crosses from the south part of Wakefield, and unites near the centre of the east boundary. Teneriffe, a bold and rocky mountain, extends along the eastern part of Milton, near which lies the three ponds, connecting with the Salmon Falls river. This town was formerly a part of Rochester, where Messrs. Joseph Plumer, Bard Plumer, William Palmer, Benjamin Scates, and their associates, went boldly into the forest and commenced cutting down sturdy oaks, in a pleasant place now called Miltonridge, which was detached from Rochester, and incorporated, June 11th, 1802. Those worthy gentlemen, with industry and application, soon made noble farms, early became wealthy and independent. J. Plumer erected a public house, which was known for three score years and upwards, as Plumer’s tavern; one of the best inns ever built and kept in New England in those early days. The Hon. B. Plumer was a statesman, he was chosen senator in district No. 5, Strafford county, in New Hampshire legislature, for several years.
William Palmer, Esq., was a useful man, his mind was well stored with useful knowledge, and was competent to decide any arbitrations that might occur; he was highly respected. Dea. B. Scates lived beloved by all, a worthy exemplary Christian. Those early settlers have left highly respectable descendants.
A number of years since, the writer providentially called at the mansion house of the late senator Plumer, which was owned and occupied by one of his sons, who was laboring in the last stages of consumption; had his family of children gathered around, with the good minister of the parish, Rev. Mr. Walker, for their baptism. I heard him a short time afterward remark, “If my father and my uncle Joseph, and Esq. Palmer, had been religious men, what a good influence they would have exerted over this town.”
The writer can look back with gratitude to the early patronage she received in Rochester, now Miltonridge. At the age of sixteen years [1797-98] I taught a school in the P. District; boarded in the families of the three first settlers, where kindness and friendship were the leading traits of character. My following terms of teaching were at the three ponds, in the district of Timothy Roberts, Esq., Ensign William Jones, and John Fish, Esq., and other officiating gentlemen of the place. It well might be pronounced a good school; the attention of the scholars was given to their studies, and each one was emulous to excel. At the close of the term, relatives, friends and neighbors, were invited to hear the recitations, and see and hear the dialogues spoken, which was rather a new thing half a century ago, so far up in the woods. The writer has fallen in with individuals in later years, that referred to that school. There are many descendants of those Milton gentlemen who fill eminent places in public life, who were of much enterprise; left their homes at an early day, to seek friends and wealth in other places.
The writer had an opportunity of visiting Milton in January, 1854, where an entire change had taken place. Many of those who made their homes so pleasant, were no more; they return not. But we were soon drawn from tears of sympathy, to be introduced to other scenes. Cheerful, lively, animated faces had taken the places of those that were not; all appeared desirous of doing good. To effect their object, they assembled at the residence of their pastor, the Rev. Mr. Dolt [James Doldt], taking with them a quantity of useful articles, such as any family would find necessary, as well as a surplus of that which we say answers all purposes; and also a luxuriant feast of good things, served up in fine style. Rev. Mr. Dolt is a man of exemplary piety, and unsullied integrity, is much beloved by his people.
But to return to Milton, named in honor of our English Homer.
The town has increased in population and business; and its water power and railroad aid the enterprise of the inhabitants. It has three houses for public worship, two ministers, Rev. James Dolt, Congregational, Rev. L.H. Gordon, Methodist. There are four practicing physicians: Dr. S. Drew early settled at the three ponds, and for thirty years and upwards, had the entire practice of the town. His long and successful practice has endeared him to the people. Dr. D.E. Palmer is a gentleman of much promise, and is fast gaining friends and practice. Dr. Buck is eminent in his profession, and a physician of high respectability. Dr. Swindleton [Dr. J.L. Swinerton] is useful in his profession, and popular. The shoe business of late has become very important. It has one bakery; Charles Sweasey, Esq., proprietor. Mr. Sweasey has long been known as a gentleman of exemplary piety. The manufactory of woolen fabrics is carried on at the westerly village, under the supervision of Mr. Townsend proprietor. It has a good town house, with stores, mills, and public houses, in due proportion.
But dropping a tear over the graves of those we early loved, we hasten from Milton away (Wyatt, 1854).
South Milton’s Theodore Cushing Lyman (1770-1863) was likely a relative of Sophia (Cushing) Hayes Wyatt.
Find a Grave. (2013, August 17). Theodore Cushing “T.C.” Lyman. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/115612665/theodore-cushing-lyman
Wikipedia. (2019, January 7). John Milton. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Milton
Wikipedia. (2018, November 10). Mount Auburn Cemetery. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Auburn_Cemetery
Wyatt, Sophia Hayes. (1854). The Autobiography of a Landlady of the Old School: With Personal Sketches of Eminent Characters, Places, and Miscellaneous Items. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=GSbjtNCHpIoC&pg=PA76